Chopped body found in Bilibid septic tank; authorities scrambling for identification
MANILA, Philippines — A chopped body was discovered inside a septic tank of a dormitory in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), a jail official said Wednesday.
NBP Acting Superintendent Sr. Insp. Angelina Bautista, however, said they have yet to confirm if the body was that of the missing inmate or Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) named Michael Angelo Cataroja. She said they have been checking a list of missing inmates since 2019.
“Hindi pa po ma-identify [kung ito] po ‘yung nawawala (It has not yet been identified if this is the one that is missing),” she said over DZBB.
She added that they hope to recover a strand or other parts of the body that could be used for identification.
Cataroja is the first PDL who went missing under the administration of Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gregorio Catapang, Bautista noted.
“Marami po dito nawawalang PDL. Hindi mo alam kung takas o hindi (There are many missing PDLs here. You don’t know if a runaway or not),” she said.
Last week, BuCor sought the help of the Philippine Coast Guard to search for Cataroja.
“From July 20-25, nakapag panel po sila sa sampung ektarya na ito na may apat na quadrant. Sa dalawang area po ‘yung na-distinguish nila, na-identify nila isa po ito, ‘ung septic tank,” she said.
(From July 20-25, they could panel these 10 hectares with four quadrants. Of the two areas they distinguished, they identified one of them, the septic tank.)
Bautista said a PDL also told them that the septic tank had been used as “tapunan” (dump).
“Ngayong araw po na ito, kung ano po ‘yung naamoy ng aso, ‘yan po ang ilalabas natin mula sa septic tank (Today, whatever the dog smells, that’s what we’ll take out of the septic tank),” she said.
BuCor has since asked the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) Forensic Science Research Service for assistance in the retrieval and identification of the remains.
As of posting, the NBI operatives are still in the area collecting evidence or conducting field tests at the alleged scene of the crime.
The NBP is said to be the largest mega-prison in the world. It is the Philippines’ main penitentiary managed by the BuCor, under the Department of Justice.
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