Forensic pathologist: DoJ twisted my findings

FORENSIC pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun. File Photo

FORENSIC pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun alleged on Thursday that the Department of Justice (DoJ) “twisted” her forensic report on the killing of a labor leader in Cavite on March 6, 2021, that resulted in the dismissal of the murder charges against 17 personnel of the Rizal and Laguna branches of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“I find their arguments crazy. They even twisted my findings, my report,” Fortun said, pertaining to the DoJ's resolution on the killing of Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion.

In a 23-page resolution issued on January 16, the DoJ panel of prosecutors said the complainant, Liezel Asuncion, wife of the victim, was not able to establish the identity of the individual who shot her husband.

“A perusal of complainant Liezel Asuncion's complaint-affidavit shows that she was not able to establish the identity/ies of the assailant/s. Although she identified the group of people who entered their house to be police officers, nevertheless, she was not able to see their faces,” a part of the resolution read.

The DoJ added that there was no eyewitness to the purported killing of Asuncion, a local coordinator of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Cavite Chapter, and that there was nothing that directly incriminates the respondents in the killing.

“How do you identify who shot the victim? You have physical evidence. This is where an independent, scientific, objective investigation should come in,” Fortun said.

“But generally in the Philippines, killers investigate themselves especially when you have people dying in police operations. Who does the investigation? It's still the PNP,” she added.

The DoJ added that the circumstantial evidence collected from the crime scene was tampered and incomplete, adding that the serving of search warrants on Asuncion was a legitimate operation wherein he resisted arrest, based on gunpowder nitrates in his hands.

The resolution said bullet trajectories were consistent with the respondents' claim that Asuncion supposedly fired at them from the second floor of his dwelling.

DoJ prosecutors said that assuming the respondent-policemen shot at Asuncion, they were in “lawful fulfillment of their duty” considering the situation.

However, the result of the autopsy conducted by Fortun on Asuncion suggested homicide.

“They wanted me to put in my report the identity of the assailants. We don't do that. That's crazy,” Fortun said. “It tells you that you don't understand what forensic investigation is about. Is this a determined, concerted effort to simply dismiss the case?”

Fortun was apprehensive that the dismissal of the murder complaint against the policemen was part of DoJ's strategy to improve the conviction rate in criminal cases.

“Before you file a case, you must have an airtight case. But my fear is, is this final? What can the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) do if your investigation is lousy, your scene wasn't really processed well, your crime lab is defective? What else can the NBI do? My biggest fear is, if you don't want to lose cases then don't file them. Is that the strategy now?” she said.

Asuncion was among several activists killed during the Bloody Sunday raids in March 2021 in Cavite, Batangas and Rizal.

Also killed while being served search warrants on the same date were human rights activist couple Ariel and Ana Mariz Lemita-Evangelista in Nasugbu, Batangas.

The Evangelista couple were members of the environmental group Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwasak ng Kalikasan.

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