Marawi bodies tested for DNA
ILIGAN CITY — A team from the police’s scene of the crime operatives (Soco) has obtained DNA samples from 11 bodies retrieved from the war zone in Marawi City.
Danilo Capin, a funeral homes owner here, said two of the bodies had initially been identified but Soco operatives decided to extract DNA samples from them just the same “for further validation and confirmation” of identities.
Most of the cadavers were beyond physical recognition, he said.
The Task Force Marawi said it had so far recovered over 60 remains from the war zone in Marawi City — including nine skeletal remains found in Barangay Marinaut last week — and will continue in its operations.
Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, Task Force Marawi spokesperson, said the retrieval of more cadavers would definitely aid the Soco in the collection of more samples that would later be matched with the DNA of those who had reported missing relatives.
But he clarified that the military was still hoping to rescue more trapped civilians and persons held hostage by the Maute terror group.
As of Monday, the number of rescued civilians was at 1,723.
To speed up the retrieval efforts, the police has started training civilian volunteers who would join the operations.
Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson for the Lanao del Sur provincial crisis management committee, told reporters last Saturday that the police responded to their appeal to set up a mobile crime laboratory in Marawi City.
“When the time comes, it would be safe for our experts and civilian volunteers to enter the area of combat operations. They know what they will do,” Adiong said.
To help families with missing relatives, he said the police had also set up missing persons desks in all evacuation centers here and in the two Lanao provinces.
“Those searching for their missing loved ones just have to provide samples of the DNA testing,” he said.
During his recent visit to Marawi, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the DNA sampling activity would greatly help the police identify retrieved bodies as well as those that would be recovered in the coming days.
The military has estimated that there were about 400 bodies strewn in various parts of the city. Some of them were of civilians reportedly killed by the gunmen, while others belonged to Maute gunmen and their allies.
Dela Rosa said recovering the cadavers inside the war zone here was difficult amid the continued gun battle.
“We cannot just send our men inside with the continued fighting. We can’t endanger them,” he said.
Dela Rosa said the police also wanted to reclaim the bodies as soon as possible, including that of a police officer slain by the Maute group, but the current situation would still not permit retrieval activities from being carried out. —RICHEL UMEL, JEOFFREY MAITEM AND ALLAN NAWAL
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