UPLB to reopen case of students’ deaths in Makiling
SAN PEDRO, LAGUNA—Officials of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) have agreed to reinvestigate the death of the two UPLB students whose bodies were found in a stream in Mt. Makiling earlier this month.
Roy Laganon, father of Kevin Laganon, said UPLB agreed to the reinvestigation after he met with UPLB Chancellor Dr. Rex Cruz on Friday.
Laganon, 44, has been questioning the police finding that his son Kevin and his friend Mark Lorenz Valdez drowned. The bodies of the two students, both 18, were found on Dec. 6, four days after they registered to go hiking into the mountain trail located inside the university campus.
“The chancellor said they would reinvestigate the case but they might refer it to the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] instead because letting the Los Baños police handle the investigation might only yield the same results,” Roy said in a phone interview on Monday.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried to reach Cruz but he could not be contacted on his mobile phone.
Kevin and Valdez were last seen alive around 9:05 a.m. on December 2 after they logged in at the Makiling trail’s monitoring station, also inside the UPLB campus.
Superintendent Roy Camarillo, M.D., the chief of the regional police medicolegal division who conducted the autopsy, said the two students drowned. He also said the patches on their skin were the results of the bodies already decomposing. Because of this, the Los Baños police ruled out foul play and rendered the case closed.
But Roy said he believed that the bruises seen on his son’s body were not caused by decomposition.
He revealed that an official from the UPLB Institute of Computer Science was the one who urged the family to submit to Cruz the letter asking for reinvestigation “because [the official] said he, too, was not convinced by the autopsy results.” Kevin was a computer science student.
“We want a reinvestigation because we cannot accept what they’ve been telling us that Kevin [and Valdez] drowned. We believe my son was killed,” he added.
In the position letter, the family cited several circumstances that led them to suspect foul play. Among them was that Kevin’s backpack and cell phone were missing from the scene or from his dormitory.
Roy also said Kevin’s phone had been shut off since 6 a.m. on Dec. 2, which was surprising because Kevin was in constant communication with his mother since Saturday evening.
Roy said his wife had been checking up on Kevin who had fever that weekend.
“Maybe they should also start getting answers from the guard [at the trail’s registration area who logged in the two students] and run a check on the other groups of hikers who went to Makiling that day,” Roy added.
While the decision of the university to reopen the case was a welcome development for the family, “we still won’t be celebrating Christmas this year,” Roy said.