Forensic expert reports inconsistencies in Kian Delos Santos autopsy

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 02 2023 04:08 PM | Updated as of Feb 02 2023 05:45 PM

 Fr. Flavie Villanueva leads the blessing on the tomb of Kian Delos Santos before the body is exhumed on Aug. 15, 2022 at the La Loma Cemetery. Vincent Go, ABS-CBN News/File 
Fr. Flavie Villanueva leads the blessing on the tomb of Kian Delos Santos before the body is exhumed on Aug. 15, 2022 at the La Loma Cemetery. Vincent Go, ABS-CBN News/File 

 MANILA — Forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun noted Thursday several inconsistencies in the official autopsy reports done on extrajudicial killing victim Kian Delos Santos.

In her presentation of her own post-mortem report after Delos Santos' body was exhumed last year, Fortun noted that the corpse was superficially cut and was not opened, in contrast with what is normally done during autopsies.

She also pointed out that even if the body was not opened, part of the police autopsy report noted that there was “200cc of digested food particles.”

“Ayan bola 'yan, paano mo nakikita contents ng stomach kung hindi mo naman binuksan,” Fortun said. 

(What fabrication is that? How will you see the contents of the stomach when you did not even open it?)

Other autopsy procedures that Fortun found unusual included the arbitrary insertion of a metal stick to the gunshot wounds and incorrect measurement of the trajectory of the bullet.

Fortun also found a bullet fragment in the neck vertebrae area of Delos Santos' remains which authorities might have missed.

She emphasized that the autopsies done by government authorities, the police, and the Public Attorneys Office were not really autopsies.

“Tawag ko doon 'autop-silip,' kasi nga sinilip nga and these are those instances when they take incision, they open the ribs, but then internal organs are still there," she said. 

(I call that 'autop-peek' because there were instances when they take incision, they open the ribs, but then internal organs are still there)

Fortun made the presentation in Paglalahad ng Katotohan Part 2 forum in cooperation with Project Arise and Initiatives For Dialogue And Empowerment Through Alternative Legal Services Incorporated.

The forensic pathologist also disagreed with the Philippine government's assertion that judicial systems were in place, in response to the reopening of the International Criminal Court's investigation on alleged killings during the Duterte administration.

“Paulit-ulit ko nang sinasabi [na] wala tayong sistema. Imagine [ang] daming patayan, violent deaths, dapat imbestigahan,” Fortun said.

(I have repeatedly said we have no system. Imagine, there are so many killings, violent deaths, these should be investigated.)

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police - Public Information Office (PNP-PIO) reiterated its stance on the country's judicial system, describing it as "robust, efficient and effectively functional."

"Clearly evident to this was the conviction of all the accused for murder... in relation to the death of Kian Delos Santos," the PNP-PIO said in a statement.

"In fact, the case was tried speedily giving justice to the family of the victim," it added. 

The uncle of Kian, Randy Delos Santos who was also present during the delivery of Fortun’s report, became emotional and left the room during the presentation.

He agreed that the ICC should continue its investigation even if 3 policemen were already convicted for the murder of his nephew.

“Sana imbestigahan pa hindi lang kay Kian, andami ho, libo ho ang napatay, sana balikan nila,” Delos Santos said. 

(I hope they investigate not just Kian's death, but that of others. Thousands were killed, I hope they review that.)

Other relatives of EJK victims who were present during the presentation of Dr. Fortun also agreed with the need for additional investigation on the death of their loved ones during Duterte’s drug war.

Duterte, who initiated the drug war, pulled the Philippines out of the ICC in 2019, a year after the Hague-based tribunal began a preliminary probe into the crackdown. 

The ICC launched a formal inquiry in September 2021, only to suspend it two months later after Manila said it was re-examining several hundred cases of drug operations that led to deaths at the hands of police, hitmen and vigilantes. The ICC prosecutor later asked to reopen the inquiry in June 2022.

Announcing the probe's resumption last week, the ICC said its pre-trial chamber was "not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court's investigations." 

Menardo Guevarra, the chief lawyer for current Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos' government, told AFP: "It is our intention to exhaust our legal remedies, more particularly elevating the matter to the ICC appeals chamber."

 Officially, 6,181 people were killed in Duterte's "war on drugs", which began in 2016, but rights groups say that up to 30,000 may have died, some innocent victims, and that corruption was rife among security forces that acted with impunity.

President Marcos, elected last year, has vowed to continue the drug war but with a focus on prevention and rehabilitation. He has, so far, ruled out reversing Duterte's decision to pull the Philippines out of the ICC.

— With a report from Agence France-Presse

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