36 human remains laid to rest in mass burial in Marawi

Bobby Lagsa
36 human remains laid to rest in mass burial in Marawi
This is the third batch of remains buried in the area. They were recovered from the main battle area in Marawi City.

LANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – 36 human remains and 4 animal remains were buried on Thursday, October 5, at the Maqbara Mass Grave in Barangay Papandayan, Marawi City.

This is the third batch of remains buried in the area. They were recovered from the main battle area in Marawi City.

Police Senior Superintendent Mary Leocy Mag-abo, Regional Chief of Crime Laboratory 10, said the remains were processed by the Scene of Crime Operatives (SOCO) for DNA sampling for identification.

The Maqbara Mass Grave now has 90 human remains buried there.

Mag-abo added that of the 36 bodies buried today, 25 are suspected ISIS members while 11 remained.

Mag-abo said that they only suspect those who are wearing black ISIS uniform but they cannot be completely certain.

“We can say that they are IS fighters because they are wearing black uniforms and they have pistol belts and other indicators that they are fighters, but we can also say that they could be just dressed up, Baka binihisan lang,” Mag-abo said.

Mag-abo also said that they can only identify the bodies if there will be someone who reports a missing person.

“Even if we have DNA generated from these samples, if there is no person who comes out and reports that their relatives are missing, then we only have generated DNA with no match,” Mag-abo said.

Mag-abo added that they also examined 110 remains, 10 of which are animal remains. The others are human remains.

90 of these human remains are buried in Maqbara while 7 are buried in Iligan City, including the 4 bodies of ISIS who were with Farhana Maute when she was arrested.

EXHUMATION. Marines from the 7th Marine Landing Battalion Team (MLBT) exhume a grave thought to contain the remains of Marine Private Alejandro Balean. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Search for the missing marine

SOCO also tried to exhume the suspected remains of a missing Marine soldier Private Alejandro Balean of the 7th Marine Landing Battalion Team.

Balean went missing on June 9,2017 after he jumped from Balo-I (Mapandi) bridge during a fierce fire fight in an operation to retake the bridge. He was swept by the current.

SOCO records show that human remains in a Marine pants uniform was recovered in the Agus River near Rurug Agus.

SOCO records also showed the remains were buried in graveyard A-1-32 on September 5.

Marines exhumed the grave so SOCO could extract more DNA samples from the remains.

Mag-abo said that extracting DNA from skeletons is more difficult as compared to other parts such as hair or muscles.

Balean’s parents came forward to locate their missing son.

However, when the marines recovered the body bag containing what supposed to be the remains with Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) of the suspected marines, the body bag did not match with the DVI and grave marker.

Mag-abo said that the DVI on the Body bag and the grave marker should have matched.

It is only then that SOCO found out that there is a mix-up on the DVI and grave marker on the second batch of bodies buried there.

The grave caretaker said that what they did was record the number, not the DVI on the body bag and the grave marker causing a problem with SOCO’s standard practice.

Mag-abo said the government spent resources on DNA sampling and following procedures on proper burial in mass graves, only to have them mixed-up during the burial.

There were 27 bodies buried on the 2nd batch of the mass burial on September 5, 2017. It is still unclear how will SOCO and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council will correct the mix-up as it was starting to rain while the burial was still on-going. – Rappler.com

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