‘Missing’ dead pile up in Malabon morgue
Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - August 30, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The killings continue, and the unaccounted dead just keep piling up.

Orly Fernandez had this to say when he told The STAR about the missing dead that have not been claimed from his funeral home since the drug war began in 2016.

At the Eusebio Funeral Homes in Barangay Longos, Malabon, Fernandez kept on with his business of collecting the dead as a police-accredited morgue.

Contrary to several reports about the business, Fernandez denied that he had been earning in the war on drugs, and that it was actually more costly for him to take custody of the unclaimed bodies and preserve them for the annual year-end burial.

Bodies float in formalin

He had 10 unclaimed bodies this year, Fernandez said, including the two bodies riddled with stab wounds and dumped along a street in Malabon last July 6. Their faces were covered and hands tied behind them.

There were more dead bodies in the past three years, Fernandez said – 36 bodies in 2016, 26 in 2017 and 20 in 2018. All these are covered in cloth and interred at a mass grave in select Camanava cemeteries at the end of the year.

But before that, they are stored in a pool brimming with formalin, leaving them floating for the rest of the year until the next mass burial.

“Hindi bloated ang tao pag binabad sa formalin. Tumitigas sila na parang kahoy (Human bodies do not bloat when they are treated with formalin. They harden like wood),” Fernandez said.

A veteran in the embalming industry, Fernandez said he could not feel sorry for the unclaimed dead, especially since most of them were involved in drug activities. He said he supports the war on drugs.

“Bakit ako maaawa, eh kasalanan nila ang pagkamatay nila. Hindi sila mamamatay kung nagpakatino sila,” Fernandez said.

Kidnapped, killed

This is the situation in Camanava, among the hardest hit in the war on drugs, where drug suspects are kidnapped, declared missing then end up dead.

Families interviewed by The STAR shared the same account – that their loved ones were kidnapped first before they were found dead.

As the country commemorates the International Day of the Disappeared today, victims’ families can only hope their dead loved ones are not forgotten.

Maria Teresa Conje, an overseas Filipino worker, rushed home from Saudi Arabia for the funeral of her son Bryan Conje, 22, who went missing for three days before he ended up dead for allegedly resisting arrest in a robbery in Navotas last July.

Conje’s mother denied her son was a robber.  

The partner of Jaybee Castor, 23, had evidence Castor was abducted. She was able to get a closed-circuit television footage from the barangay hall showing Castor beaten by a group of masked men who pushed him into a white van after snatching him from his home in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan last June 25.

Castor was found dead 10 days later in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, with a cardboard sign saying he was an addict.

Fernandez said the killings in the war on drugs are far from over – one needs only look at Camanava.

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