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Kulot buried sans new DNA test

Photo shows a cemetery worker writing the name of Reynaldo ‘Kulot’ de Guzman on his tomb at the Pasig City Cemetery yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines — After a tug-of-war over the remains and a dispute even over the state of his genitals, a slain boy believed to be Reynaldo de Guzman was finally buried yesterday in a cemetery in Pasig.

Police and the Department of Justice abandoned their plan to conduct a second DNA test on the 14-year-old boy known as Kulot after his parents protested and insisted that the corpse was indeed that of their son.

The police, citing DNA test results on the parents and the corpse found in a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija last week, said it was not De Guzman.

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said the new DNA test was not needed following the positive identification by the parents and a comparative analysis of the body based on De Guzman’s photos when he was alive.

Acosta, who is providing legal assistance to De Guzman’s parents, contested the DNA results of the Philippine National Police.

Eduardo Gabriel and Lina de Guzman said they pushed through with the interment since they were convinced that the boy was their son. 

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“He is my son, we brought him up. All the identifying marks were his. He will not be released to us if he was not ours. From the first time I saw him he is my son),” Eduardo said in Filipino. 

“He is my son, he looks like his father, his face is ours. He’s our flesh and blood. We made him, I gave birth to him, I had a hard time so he’s my son,” Lina added also in Filipino. 

The parents have different surnames because they are not legally married. Kulot used his mother’s surname. 

PNP Deputy Director General Fernando Mendez recently said that the DNA test on the boy found in Gapan, Nueva Ecija did not match that of Lina and Eduardo. 

Acosta said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had issued a death certificate on Kulot after conducting a full autopsy on the cadaver.

The PNP’s DNA test showed that Kulot was not the dead boy found in Kinamatayang Kabayo creek last week after the sample from the cadaver did not match with samples taken from his parents.

But even as he ordered the NBI to conduct another DNA test, Justice Secrtary Vitaliano Aguirre II pointed out that DNA result is not credible all the time.

“There are instances when the DNA result is discredited by wrong procedure or tainted specimen. So if the DNA would not match, it doesn’t automatically mean that the cadaver is not Kulot’s,” he explained.

Kulot’s family and the PAO dismissed questions on the cadaver’s identity raised by the DNA test conducted by the PNP.

The second DNA test to be conducted by the NBI was called off by Aguirre. “I am giving PAO a free hand to decide on the matter,” he said.

Acosta had questioned why the police conducted the DNA test in the absence of a lawyer and considering that there was no identity issue.

She rebutted PNP’s argument that the DNA test was a standard operating procedure on their part.

“If it’s an SOP on their part, how come they did not conduct a DNA test on Kian and Carl?” Acosta pointed out, referring to the two other victims of recent killings, Kian Loyd delos Santos and Carl Angelo Arnaiz.

Aside from the DNA test, the PNP added that an examination of the body “found it to be uncircumcised when they know pretty well that Kulot was circumcised.”

But PAO’s forensic expert Erwin Erfe, who led the team of three doctors in conducting the forensic analysis of the body, explained that the cadaver “has evidence of previous circumcision (with overgrown penile skin). The police might have misinterpreted it.”

The PNP respects the decision of the parents of Kulot to bury the boy who was recovered in Nueva Ecija.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos said yesterday they have no issues with the De Guzman family’s decision despite the DNA test result.

The police on Monday released the DNA findings of the PNP Crime Laboratory, saying the body found floating in a creek in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija was not Reynaldo despite positive identification by the missing boy’s parents.

“If they buried the cadaver, all we have to do is look at the location and make sure the cadaver is there if needed in the ongoing investigation,” said Carlos.

Senior Supt. Wilson Asueta, head of the CIDG National Capital Region, said they will not force the family to subject the body to another DNA test.

Witness protection

Just a few minutes after the interment of Kulot, his family was taken out of the Pasig Public Cemetery by the Intelligence Security and Operations Group (ISOG) of the Department of Justice and placed under the witness protection program (WPP). 

ISOG chief Ernie Talabucon said they attended Kulot’s burial upon orders of Aguirre to secure the family after what happened on Tuesday when CIDG operatives attempted to get Kulot’s body. 

Talabucon said all the family members were brought to the justice department.  

He also explained that they have to put bulletproof vests on Lina and Eduardo to secure them, which is also part of the WPP’s standard operating procedure.  –  With Edu Punay, Emmanuel Tupas

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