EDITORIAL - Get the murderers
(The Philippine Star) - September 11, 2017 - 4:00pm

There’s a scrawny teenage boy with at least 26 stab wounds lying in a coffin in a slum area in Cainta, Rizal. The cadaver was found last week in a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, lying face down, with the head wrapped in a thick layer of tape. The murder victim was identified in a funeral parlor morgue as Reynaldo de Guzman, a 14-year-old fifth grader who went missing on the night of Aug. 17 together with his neighbor Carl Angelo Arnaiz.

De Guzman’s father Eduardo identified the remains based on a surgical scar and warts on the body. No one else was looking for a missing boy and the funeral parlor turned over the cadaver to Eduardo and his wife Lina.

Yesterday the Philippine National Police announced that DNA tests on the cadaver and Eduardo and Lina did not match. The two stressed that they are the biological parents of the boy known as Kulot, who is now officially listed as missing rather than a murder victim. The Public Attorney’s Office, which also conducted forensic analysis on the body, disputed the PNP findings and decried what the PAO chief said was an attempt to muddle the case.

Appearances change with death. Even the wealthy deceased, fully made up and in a coffin, rarely look like what they did while alive. Lina had noted that the body fished out of the creek was too thin. Other quarters observed that the boy had been missing for over two weeks and could have been starved prior to the gruesome murder. With nearly 30 stab wounds, the blood and body fluids had drained out of the body in the creek by the time it was found, but it was not yet bloated; morticians noted that the body was still relatively fresh.

The circumstances leave a wide room for mistakes in identification, although Eduardo stressed he had correctly made out the boy’s body marks. It is also noteworthy that no other parents are looking for a missing boy of about the same age and similar features.

To erase doubts, the DNA test can be repeated, this time in the presence of all the concerned parties including representatives of the PAO. The process must guarantee full monitoring of the handling of the specimens, from their collection to the transport to the laboratory and actual testing.

While the confusion is sorted out, there is no doubt that the cadaver in that Cainta wake is a young victim of an abominable crime. And the murderers must be brought to justice.

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