New Bilibid Prison

Experts start examination to check suspected human remains in Bilibid

Jairo Bolledo

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Experts start examination to check suspected human remains in Bilibid

EXAMINATION. Nestor Castro from University of the Philippines Diliman's anthropology department, along with Richard Jonathan Taduran from the Lyceum of the Philippines Davao and University of the Cordilleras, start their examination to determine if human remains were indeed in a Bilibid septic tank.

Bureau of Corrections

The experts' findings will be out within two days to a week, the Bureau of Corrections says

MANILA, Philippines – The experts tapped by authorities to look into presumed human remains inside the New Bilibid Prison have started their examination, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said on Friday, August 4.

Anthropologists Nestor Castro from the University of the Philippines Diliman’s anthropology department, and Richard Jonathan Taduran,from the Lyceum of the Philippines Davao and University of the Cordilleras, arrived at the national penitentiary “to collect residue and examine hard objects found inside the Septic Tank 1,” the BuCor told reporters.

As quoted by the corrections bureau, Taduran said they separated hard sediments to determine whether what they collected were human bones or not. The findings will be out within two days to a week, the BuCor noted.

In a message to Rappler, Castro said they first went to Bilibid on Wednesday to inspect the septic tank. On Friday morning, the septic tank was already siphoned, paving the way for the two experts to look into the sediments, Castro added.

The experts also recommended to the BuCor to ask for the help of Scene of the Crime Operatives of the Philippine National Police.

Castro told Rappler that they will have complementary efforts in their examination since they have two different specializations. Taduran, as a biological and forensic anthropologist, will help in determining human remains, especially dismembered ones. Meanwhile, Castro said that as a political anthropologist, he will look into behavioral issues related to crime and violence through interviews and observations.

The experts’ examination was the latest update in the new controversy involving the BuCor.

On July 26, BuCor officials announced the discovery of an alleged corpse while searching for Michael Angelo Cataroja, a person deprived of liberty who had gone missing since July 15.

A day later, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla confirmed that the corpse found in the Bilibid septic tank was not Cataroja, whose decapitated body was found near a criminal gang’s area in the facility. He added that more mass graves may be found inside Bilibid.

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Remulla: More mass graves may be inside Bilibid

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But on August 3, Remulla retracted his statement about the discovered PDL and said he got the wrong information: “I was the victim of ‘fake news’ that the remains had been found, that he was decapitated. That’s the first information I received.”

A separate hearing on the septic tank controversy will be conducted by the Senate committee on justice and human rights on Tuesday, August 8. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.