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Autopsy on ‘bloody Sunday’ victims reveals 9 activists ‘really shot to be killed’

/ 08:45 PM July 07, 2021
Autopsy on 'bloody Sunday' victims reveals 9 activists 'really shot to be killed'

BLOODY RAID Imelda Evangelista, 55, points to the spot where her son, Ariel Evangelista, and his wife, Chai Lemita-Evangelista, were shot dead by police officers in Barangay Calayo, Nasugbu, Batangas. The Evangelista couple was among the nine activists killed in simultaneous police-military raids in the Southern Luzon region on March 7, 2021. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines—The nine activists targeted by simultaneous police and military operations last March in Calabarzon were “really shot to be killed” by the raiders, Dr. Raquel Fortun, a forensic pathologist from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine said Wednesday.

The nine bodies from the Bloody Sunday raids were taken to the UP College of Medicine for examination upon the request of family members and human rights activists.

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Last March 7, police and military units conducted simultaneous raids in Southern Tagalog based on search warrants issued by Metropolitan Manila courts. Authorities said the nine fought back and were killed.

The nine killed activists were brothers Abner and Edward Esto, Mark Lee Bacasno and Michael Dasigao of the San Isidro Kasiglahan, Kapatiran at Damayan para sa Kabuhayan, Katarungan at Kapayapaan (SIKKAD-K3); fisherfolk couple Chai and Ariel Evangelista of the Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwawasak ng Kalikasan at Kalupaan (UMALPAS KA); farmer cousins Puroy and Randy dela Cruz, both advocates of indigenous people’s rights and Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion, a labor leader from Cavite.

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“All of them have shots in the chest. They were really shot to be killed,” Fortun said at a press conference.

Although it was an advantage that they could see the nine bodies, she said conducting the examination was not easy.

“This is the ultimate forensic pathology challenge,” she said.

She said, the gunshot wounds, bullet holes were altered and sutured while organs of some of the bodies were already taken out and randomly cut.

Fortun added that they also requested the victims’ clothes, “but unfortunately only two cases have clothes submitted with the body.”

“The other seven, we have no idea what happened to the clothes,” she said as she explained that the clothes are another documentation to determine what happened to the activists.

Gov’t investigation

The government is also doing its own investigation through the Department of Justice-led inter-agency AO35 task force.

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However, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the special investigating team had difficulty accessing the crime scene for ocular examinations.

“My understanding is that some of the places where the incidents occurred are quite remote and the terrain is difficult. But it will be much clearer after we have conferred with the investigating teams or we have seen their reports,” Guevarra told reporters.

Charm Maranan of Defend Southern Tagalog said the special investigating team under AO 35 has only conducted an ocular inspection of the crime scene where Asuncion was killed in Cavite.

As for the police, while there are indications that the bodies of the nine activists were previously examined, its findings have yet to be released to requesting families and human rights groups.

“We have requested for a copy of the search warrant applications, autopsy report of the PNP, but they are not cooperative,” Maranan said.

“If they are really sincere with their investigation, they should cooperate with us by furnishing us with [our requested] documents,” she added.

“State agent ka, di ba dapat alam mo kung ano ang tama (State agents know what’s right),” Fortun said and asked where are the photos, sketches, blood spatter analysis, among others.

“I do not think that was done. But I am waiting. Ano ang meron [What do they have],” she added.

Fortun said each of the nine cases deserves a homicide investigation.

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TAGS: Activists, Bloody Sunday, Calabarzon, Human rights, Search Warrant, Tokhang
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