By JOSEPH GREGORIO
BAGUIO CITY (Last updated October 19, 10:50 am) — Authorities recovered 8 corpses in a 30-meter ravine along the Marcos Highway in Sitio Poyopoy, Barangay Taloy Sur, Tuba, Benguet during a two-day search.
Found on October 15 were five corpses in various states of decomposition and two skeletal remains. The search team recovered another human remains on the afternoon of October 16. Police send the remains to the crime laboratory for examination.
Benguet Provincial Police Office (PPO) Chief Elmer Ragay believed the victims were killed somewhere and dumped in the area. He said Poyopoy was a known “dumping ground” of summary execution victims.
The official assured the public that the police has nothing to do with the deaths of the individuals.
“The provincial police office was adjudged as the bet police office for the past three years, so it is impossible that our personnel will be involved,” he said.
A resident who reported an unusual stench in the area led to the discovery of the bodies.
Authorities have identified three of the recovered remains as of October 19.
The two corpses earlier identified were Fahad Manan Macalanggan, a 28 years old Maranao residing at Crustal Cave, Baguio City, and Kent Charlie Licyayo, 22 years old from Highyon, Ifugao and a resident of Hilltop, Baguio City.
Family members identified the third body, who is a 30-year-old native of Tadian, Mountain Province. However, they asked the authorities not to make the name of the victim public for the time being.
According to Ragay, there were no indications of gunshot wounds in the bodies based on the autopsy conducted. He also revealed that one of the corpses bore traumatic injuries on the chest area.
Crime lab technicians already collected DNA samples to ascertain the identities of the remains. Authorities call for relatives of missing persons to step forward and try to check if their kin is among those found.
Ragay acknowledged that it is unfortunate that a Community Police Assistance Center (Compac) of the Tuba Municipal Station is just 200 meters away from the site.
He explained that with limited personnel, officers assigned in the Compac find it hard to monitor the entire surroundings. According to him, only one person is usually present at the sub-station during the night time or early hours of every morning while the others are on patrol.
The official said he would personally look into measures to further secure the area and prevent similar incidents from happening. Among the steps the police are studying is the activation of force multipliers from the ground.
He said Tuba, with only 44 police personnel, is a top priority for the deployment of new officers assigned in Benguet. Tuba PNP covers four major highways leading to Baguio coming from La Union. These are Kennon Road, Marcos Highway, San Pascual-Nangalisan Road, and Naguilian Road.
Meanwhile, Tuba Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan appealed to everyone to stop dumping garbage and corpses in the area. She said that there is nothing new about people dropping dead persons along the national highway. But they were still appalled by the discovery of eight human remains in a single site in two days.
The mayor is planning to seek the assistance of the Department of Public Works and Highways to further secure the area with a fence and additional closed-circuit television cameras. She will also request the installation of more street lamps from the Benguet Electric Cooperative.
Aside from Marcos Highway, previous dumping activities involving cadavers also occurred along Asin and Nangalisan Road, Kennon, and other major thoroughfares in the province.
Ragay also announced the creation of “Task Force Found Cadaver” to pursue the investigation on the case.
“It is no longer just Tuba police that will investigate, I will head the task force,” he told the media.
Personnel from the Crime Laboratory Service, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Police Provincial Legal Office will compose the task force.
“This is a slap on the face of the peace-loving people of Benguet. We want to shed light, and we will do thorough investigation research,” he said.
Cordillera police chief Brig. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson promised to exert all efforts “to identify the cadavers and skeletal remains for the sake of their families and help them seek justice and find closure for the death of their loved ones.”
“We will not leave any stone unturned in this case,” he added. # nordis.net