Unclaimed Bilibid inmate cadavers like a 'mass disaster' - forensic expert

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 14 2022 10:46 AM | Updated as of Nov 14 2022 10:56 AM

The New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City on Sept. 18, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
The New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City on Sept. 18, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The pileup of unclaimed cadavers of New Bilibid Prison inmates at a funeral parlor in Muntinlupa City is like a "mass disaster," a forensic pathologist said Monday.

Dr. Raquel Fortun said she is set to conduct an autopsy on the deceased NBP inmates this week.

"The biggest challenge here is how do you manage [the] dead, and you can liken this to a mass disaster," she told ANC's "Rundown".

Fortun visited Eastern Funeral Services on Saturday to inspect the corpses, which were stored at the morgue since December 2021.

During her initial inspection, she found that some 120 cadavers were already "mummified," which meant the bodies had dried up.

Meanwhile, about 50 cadavers, which included recent deaths, are still suitable for examination.

"The internal examination of the mummified remains could be very, very difficult," Fortun said.

"A full autopsy, I believe, would still be possible, especially in the recent deaths. Some of them can still be examined," she added.

Fortun said she is still in the process of reviewing the cause of death of the NBP inmates.

"The good news is each body comes with a death certificate, and they are identified and there seems to be a system," she said.

Asked if foul play is involved in the inmates' deaths, she said certifying manner of death would require "totality of evidence".

The investigation on the murder of journalist Percival Mabasa, more known as Percy Lapid, led to the discovery of the remains of some 100 inmates in a Bureau of Corrections-accredited funeral home.

Police allege BuCor director general Gerald Bantag, who is currently suspended from duty, was behind the radio commentator's murder. 

Bantag told DZRH broadcaster last month that he had nothing to do with the killing. 

Bantag and his deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta have also been accused of ordering the killing of Cristito Villamor Palana, a Bilibid inmate who allegedly passed on the kill order to the gunman.

Palana was allegedly suffocated with a plastic bag by members of his own gang. 

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— With reports from Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse