Gunshot wound, not bronchopneumonia: CA corrects death certificate of drug war victim

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 05 2022 07:12 PM | Updated as of Dec 05 2022 11:44 PM

(UPDATED) The Court of Appeals 4th Division has ordered the correction of cause of death entry in the death certificate of 9-year old Lenin Baylon, who was killed at the height of the war on drugs in 2016, from bronchopneumonia to gunshot wound.

In a decision dated November 15, 2022, the CA reversed the decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 232 of Caloocan City which denied the petition of Lenin’s father Rodrigo Baylon to compel the Local Civil Registry of Caloocan City to make the necessary correction.

CA corrects death certificate of drug war victim 1
CA corrects death certificate of drug war victim 2

CA's decision dated Nov. 15, 2022. 📷: Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

CA's decision dated Nov. 15, 2022. 📷: Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

The CA noted that Lenin was playing in a computer shop on December 2, 2016 when gunmen who were apparently chasing two women appeared within the vicinity.

Gunshots were later heard and stray bullets hit Lenin.

“Considering the aforestated circumstances, let alone the fact that Lenin’s death was caused by a gunshot would has been sufficiently proven, it would indeed be fair and equitable that the genuine cause of Lenin’s death be reflected in the death certificate,” the court said in the decision penned by Associate Justice Roberto Quiroz, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Ramon Bato, Jr. and Germano Francisco Legaspi.

The court noted that Rodrigo’s petition was filed almost three years after the death of his son because he intends to file a case against the perpetrators.

The bronchopneumonia entry was made by the funeral parlor which serviced Lenin’s body after Lenin’s sister Mayone Baylon executed a waiver.

“With the appellant’s desire to have his son laid down and considering the rampant killings which might prejudice the family in the locality, he kept mum despite knowledge of his son’s real cause of death,” the court said.

The CA also stated that even in the absence of a post-mortem examination, the probable cause of death requirement under the Law on Registry of Civil Status had been satisfied by the declaration of the medico-legal that the nature of Lenin’s death was an “alleged shooting incident.”

Lenin’s family led by Rodrigo Baylon as well as lawyers from Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services or IDEALS gathered at the Commission on Human Rights grounds Monday, not just to welcome the CA decision but to celebrate the birthday of Lenin who was born on December 5, 2006.

Gunshot wound, not bronchopneumonia: CA corrects death certificate of drug war victim

“Paano mo masasabing bronchopneumonia 'yung lintik na iyon, buhat-buhat nung isang galing sa loob, dalawa pinagtutulungan na ibuhat palabas, kinarga sa pedicab papuntang Tala (Jose Rodriguez Hospital),” Rodrigo Baylon said during the press conference.

A short prayer was offered by Catholic priest Fr. Flavie Villanueva while IDEALS lawyers and staff sang “Happy Birthday” while holding a birthday cake in remembrance of Lenin’s birthday.

Gunshot wound, not bronchopneumonia: CA corrects death certificate of drug war victim

Lenin’s family’s legal counsel Atty. Mario Maderazo said their fight for justice for Lenin as well for at least 5 to 10 victims also needing death certificate corrections does not end with the CA decision.

“Napabalitang ipagpapatuloy ng Marcos administration ang war on drugs subalit nakatuon daw ito sa prevention and rehabilitation, subalit mahalaga pa rin ang makatotohanang pag-iimbestiga ng mga kaso ng EJK (extra-judicial killings), torture at iba pa kaugnay ng war on drugs, inuulit namin ang aming panawagan na magsawa ng imbestigasyon at magkaroon ng isang truth commission upang magsimula ng paghahanap ng katotohanan kaugnay nitong ginawang war on drugs,” Maderazo said.

CHR Director for Protection Cluster Atty. Jasmin Navarro Regino said that the commission, under the leadership of Chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc, will establish a litigation unit for cases similar to Lenin’s.

“Kami po, ang mga abugado ng Commission on Human Rights ay haharap sa mga kaso na katulad po nito,” Navarro Regino said.