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MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said on Thursday, July 27, that there may be more mass graves inside the New Bilibid Prison, following the discovery of a corpse inside a septic tank in the national penitentiary.
“Ang tingin namin, may dalawang mass graves diyan sa maximum compound, sa dalawang tanks, and may isa pang site kung saan mayi-yield pa ang ibang remains (We think there are two mass graves at the maximum compound, in the two tanks, and there’s another site which will yield more remains),” Remulla said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source on July 27.
Remulla made the statement a day after he and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials announced the discovery of a corpse while searching for Michael Angelo Cataroja, person deprived of liberty who had gone missing since July 15.
Remulla also confirmed that the corpse found in the Bilibid septic tank on Wednesday was not Cataroja, whose decpatitated body was found near a criminal gang’s area in the facility. Authorities have yet to locate his head.
“Iba pa (kay Cataroja) at mukhang marami pa kung talagang huhukayin ‘yan. Mukhang marami kasi nga ang haba ng kasaysaysan ng Bilibid (This is different from Cataroja, and it appears that there may be many more, if there is really an effort to dig them up because Bilibid has a long history),” Remulla said.
The DOJ chief said that they will need forensic and anthropology experts to help process the remains recovered from the septic tank. Remulla added that BuCor Director General Gregorio Catapang will submit an updated report to him on Friday, July 28.
BuCor Deputy Director for Operations Angie Bautista had earlier said that they received a tip that the septic tank where human remains were found had been used as a mass grave in Bilibid.
The case of Cataroja and the Bilibid “mass grave” are the latest in a series of controversies and problems hounding the BuCor.
The killing of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa re-exposed the cracks in the country’s prison system after PDLs were implicated in the murder. Bilibid PDL Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman who contacted people to kill Mabasa, was also killed inside the national penitentiary.
Shortly after Mabasa’s death, former BuCor chief Gerald Bantag was tagged in his killing and was suspended from his post. Catapang took over and exposed Bantag’s controversial affairs inside Bilibid, including a big excavation ordered by the former BuCor chief. – Rappler.com