Bureau of Corrections

BuCor: Fortun to examine bodies of 8 prisoners who died inside Bilibid

Jairo Bolledo
BuCor: Fortun to examine bodies of 8 prisoners who died inside Bilibid

BURIED. The Bureau of Corrections bury 70 more mummified cadavers of persons deprived of liberty from Eastern Funeral Services on December 2, 2022, at the New Bilibid Prison Cemetery in Muntinlupa City.


Of the 176 bodies recovered from the Eastern Funeral Homes, 39 were already autopsied by the NBI

MANILA, Philippines – A Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) official said on Friday, December 2, that the bodies of eight persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who died inside the New Bilibid Prison will be examined by forensic expert Raquel Fortun.

BuCor Directorate for Health and Welfare Services chief Ma. Cecilia Villanueva said that Fortun has requested to be assigned PDLs whose deaths were “more recent” or since October this year. Currently, there are 42 bodies at the BuCor-accredited Eastern Funeral Homes in Muntinlupa City.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will choose the eight bodies that will undergo autopsies.

“[The NBI] did not require autopsies for the bodies that were already autopsied. They have to choose the bodies that are still possible to be autopsied and mostly deaths from October,” Villanueva explained.

When asked when will Fortun examine the bodies, Villanueva said, “possibly next week.” She added that the BuCor is still processing the papers.

In total, the corrections bureau was able to retrieve 176 bodies of Bilibid PDLs in Eastern Funeral Homes. Authorities discovered the bodies while they were working on the case of Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman in the Percy Lapid case, who died inside Bilibid. The Villamor’s body was sent to the Bilibid-accredited funeral home.

Out of the 176 bodies, 39 were already autopsied by the NBI, according to Villanueva.

Sa 176 kasi (Because for the 176), 39 of them were undetermined cause of death and all of them were autopsied by NBI… [Those] results were already in and already shown to Dr. Fortun,” the Bucor official said, adding that the findings showed the PDLs died of natural causes.


On the autopsy with UP’s partnership

On November 9, Department of Justice (DOJ) Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said at least 120 bodies will undergo autopsies at the University of the Philippines (UP) Philippine General Hospital. Remulla later clarified that the bodies will be transferred to the UP College of Medicine instead.

The same day Remulla made the announcement, he also corrected himself and said they have yet to determine the exact number of cadavers that will be transferred to UP. The DOJ chief also said they will sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the educational institution for the autopsy.

Almost a month later, a MOA between the DOJ and UP has yet to be signed.

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‘Middleman’ in Percy Lapid case suffocated with plastic bag – 2nd autopsy

NBI autopsy compared to Fortun

When Villamor died inside the national penitentiary, the NBI immediately conducted an autopsy on his body. The first autopsy showed that Villamor died with “no apparent sign of external physical injury.”

But Lapid’s family requested a second autopsy on Villamor’s body. Even President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed doubt about Villamor’s cause of death.

Shortly, Fortun conducted her independent autopsy on Villamor and the findings revealed that the alleged middleman died due to suffocation from a plastic bag.

New set of buried cadavers

On Friday, 70 more bodies of Bilibid PDLs were buried by the BuCor. In total, the bureau had already buried 140 bodies since the discovery of the cadavers.

The remaining 36 bodies either remained at the Eastern Funeral Homes or were already claimed by their families, according to Villanueva.

The BuCor health services chief said they are still suffering from poor health services inside the Bilibid. According to Villanueva, they only have five doctors for over 20,000 PDLs inside the national penitentiary.

BuCor: Fortun to examine bodies of 8 prisoners who died inside Bilibid

The ideal number is one nurse for every 40 PDL. But at present, there is only one nurse for every 200 or 300 PDL.

The average death inside Bilibid is around one to two per day, Villanueva said. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.