CITING DNA evidence, the Philippine National Police said Monday the body found floating in a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija did not belong to 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, even though his parents positively identified him.
“Based on the results obtained, the source of the DNA profile obtained from the male cadaver cannot be the biological offspring of Eduardo Gabriel and Lina de Guzman,” said Deputy Director General Fernando Mendez of the PNP operations branch during a press briefing.
“He is not Reynaldo de Guzman,” Mendez said.
Reynaldo went missing Aug. 17 apparently in the company of 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, who was gunned down by Caloocan City police in the early hours of Aug. 18.
Reynaldo’s father, who arrived at the morgue shortly after the body was found, positively identified Reynaldo’s corpse through a wart on his left knee and a mark on the boy’s neck.
His mother Lina, who lifted the white cover on the cadaver’s face, also confirmed that the body belonged to her son Reynaldo.
But the PNP-Crime Laboratory defended the accuracy of its findings.
Chief Insp. Lorna Santos, chief of the Crime Lab DNA Division, said the DNA findings are 99.9 percent accurate.
“What we have conducted is a paternity test. So that is the result of our exam,” she added.
Mendez said the parents of Reynaldo might have committed mistake in identifying the body of Reynaldo since the cadaver was already bloated and the physical appearance had changed.
The cadaver was still firm when it was taken to the funeral home, indicating the victim had been killed just hours before his body was dumped in the creek.
Reynaldo’s father asked for new tests to be conducted, while Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Rueda Acosta, said the couple never asked for a DNA test.
She said they were just asked to sign a document but did not understand that it was a request for a DNA test.
Acosta also debunked the need for DNA testing to make sure that the body found in Nueva Ecija was indeed that of De Guzman because the DNA samples are only reliable if the specimen is safe.
The PAO chief said that after a comparative analysis of De Guzman’s face based on his pictures and that of the body found in Nueva Ecija, the victim’s parents identified the remains as that of their missing boy.
“Even the parents of Kulot [De Guzman’s nickname] identified the cadaver as that of their missing son. The comparative analysis of the picture of Kulot and the cadaver in the presence of our forensic expert also made a similar conclusion, it was him,” Acosta said, in a press conference.
Acosta also played down the possibility that De Guzman could just be an adopted child as a reason for the different DNA results, adding that his parents told her that the boy was their biological son.
“DNA test is reliable if the specimen is safe, but if it is contaminated, the findings, the results could be different,” Acosta said.
“He’s really their son, which is why they are angry,” she said in Filipino. She added that they could identify him clearly by his face, since the body had not yet bloated or decomposed.
Acosta also raised the possibility that the case is being muddled as she called on the media to be careful in their reporting on the controversy.
“It seems that somebody is trying to muddle the case so I’m appealing to the media to be careful,” she said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, on the other hand, said the results of a DNA test cannot be contested.
“So assuming that what the PNP was saying on the DNA analysis was authentic, that it was not Kulot who was recovered, we have to live with that and leave it at that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimenez and former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras denounced some politicians for their effort to politicize the recent spate of killings involving teenagers.
Jimenez and Paras appealed to the politicians to leave the case to the authorities and to stop making a political issue out of the killings.
In particular, they assailed Senator Risa Hontiveros for refusing to turn over the two witnesses in the Kian delos Santos killing to the PAO or the DOJ.
“I can feel, I can empathize with these victims. I think this is the time to call on the politicians and the government to stop making this political. There is a senator there who is very obvious that she is using this case but let us stop politicizing this issue,” Jimenez said.
“She is using the death of Kian to strike back at President Duterte. This is what happening in this case, Senator Hontiveros is politically motivated,” Paras added.
Also on Monday, the Palace said it expects the taxi driver who claims he was robbed by 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz to cooperate with authorities, after he contradicted police accounts that the boy died in a shootout on Aug. 18.
“We look forward to Mr. Tomas Bagcal’s cooperation with authorities, as he willingly expressed,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a Palace news briefing.
“We expect the truth of the matter to be clarified and those responsible made accountable before the law,” he added.
Abella added that the National Bureau of Investigation is now “conducting a parallel probe in the Carl Angelo Arnaiz case,” adding that Bagcal is “vital” in its speedy resolution.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday urged the church group, which has custody of Bagcal, to turn over the witness to the National Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting a parallel probe of the killing.
“I call on those who took custody of Mr. Tomas Bagcal and other witnesses to turn them over to the National Bureau of Investigation and to allow the NBI probers to conduct a thorough investigation in order to ferret out the truth surrounding the killing of Arnaiz,” Aguirre said. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and John Paolo Bencito