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Skeletal remains found at DOJ construction site could belong to ‘3-5’ persons

by Izel Abanilla

Recently updated on November 27, 2022 06:44 pm

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday (November 25) that the skeletal remains found at the construction site within its compound along Padre Faura in Manila could belong to at least 3-5 persons. 

“So they were digging up para sa foundation. Near the surface may nahukay na mga bone or buto, skeleton. And ‘yung remains mga three to five estimate, ‘no? Three to five sets of skeleton were found barely on the surface,” DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano told reporters.

The remains were accidentally exhumed by equipment engineers during operation Thursday (November 24) for the construction of a new DOJ library building.

The remains were immediately turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for forensics. 

Renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun gave the DOJ advice as to how to handle skeletal remains. 

“The next time na makuha natin ‘yong gano’ng klaseng skeleton or remains not to touch it,” Clavano said, quoting her.

“So hindi po natin alam ‘yon that’s why tinurn-over kaagad namin sa NBI.” 

Also today, the DOJ will be meeting up with Fortun and an anthropologist to discuss the next steps. They are also expecting a report from the NBI either today or next week. 

Fortun slammed yet again the forensic handling in the Philippines in a series of tweets. She asserted that getting as much information from human remains depends mostly on its handling and documentation. 

This was not the first time however that skeletal remains were found within the DOJ compound. Back in 2005, about five skulls and human bones were found at the construction where the Forum Building now stands. It is where the state prosecutors hold office. 

Bones ‘could be’ from WW2 victims?

While information about the bones are yet to be available, many hunch that the remains could belong to casualties from World War II. 

“Manila is a very old city, it can be part of the war, we don’t know. Remember during the war, wasak lahat ‘yan,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla told reporters. 

We don’t know if it’s very old remains or how old they are, it’s part of history of course,” he added. 

Over 100,000 estimated deaths were recorded during the liberation of the Philippines in 1945. Manila, being the capital city, was the center of the bloodshed. Because of this, Manila was considered to be the second most destroyed city during WWII next to Warsaw, Poland. 

The city of Manila, especially Intramuros, Ermita and nearby places, was where combat was harshest. 

An administrative official also previously said that a Japanese garrison once stood at the DOJ building. 

Photo credit: DOJ

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