CAMP DANGWA, Benguet — The provincial police office here has formed a task force to investigate the eight corpses found in a ravine in Tuba town along Marcos Highway.
“It is no longer just Tuba police that will investigate, I will head the task force,” said Col. Elmer Ragay, acting Benguet Provincial Police Office (BPPO) chief, in a press conference.
The “Task Force Found Cadaver” is joined by the Crime Laboratory Service, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Police Provincial Legal Office.
“This is a slap on the face of the peace-loving people of Benguet. We want to shed light and we will do thorough investigation research,” said Ragay.
On Tuesday, seven dead bodies were retrieved from the ravine at Sitio Poyopoy, Barangay Taloy Sur while another one was found on Wednesday.
Based on the report of the Regional Crime Laboratory Service, the cadavers have been dumped on separate dates.
The crime lab estimated that five of the cadavers are two weeks old, one is one-month old, and the two human skeletons are about one year old.
Except for the skeletons, the remains did not show signs of gunshot wounds.
Two of the eight have been identified by their families- Fahad Manan Macalanggan, 28, of Marawi and resident of Crystal Cave; and Kent Charlie Lubiton Licyayo, 22, of Hingyon, Ifugao and resident of Hilltop road.
Ragay said he is personally looking at remedies on how to end the tag of that highway area which had been known as “dumping place”. “It is high time that everybody gets involved,” he said.
Ragay said they will also activate the force multipliers to serve as eyes and ears on the ground and will look at the possibility of installing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras along Marcos highway.
Prior to the discovery of the remains, Ragay said that Tuba had been a top priority in the distribution of new personnel who will be assigned in Benguet, as its current personnel count is only 44.
“We are hoping to get as much personnel from the 600 new policemen who recently took their oath and are now undergoing training,” Ragay said.
Aside from securing the residents in the town, Tuba police also has jurisdiction over the four main highways leading to Baguio coming from La Union. These are Kennon Road, Marcos Highway, San Pascual-Nangalisan Road and Naguilian Road.
He added that the Benguet police has coordinated and requested other police offices for an inventory of the report of missing persons in their jurisdictions.
There are no reported missing persons in Benguet.
Brig. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson, Police Regional Office-Cordillera (PROCOR) director, said that PROCOR shall do all it can “to identify the cadavers and skeletal remains for the sake of their families and help them seek justice and find closure for the death of their loved ones”.
“We will not leave any stone unturned in this case,” he added.
Ragay said the place has been carrying the tag as an area where dead bodies were thrown.
“Memory lane, even during my time in college, it had been known as such,” he said.
Major James Acod, Tuba chief of police, said the last time a human skeleton was found in the area was on the third quarter of 2018.
He described the area as a place where residents usually dump garbage. It is a steep ravine and the bodies were found some 30 to 50 meters below.
Rescuers had to rappel to reach the area following information from a resident of foul smell on October 15.
On several occasions, Acod said that human remains have been discovered dumped on different parts of Marcos Highway, Nangalisan Road and Kennon Road.
Mayor Clarita Sal-Ongan, who resides in Taloy Sur said she wants the ravine blocked with a high fence to prevent dumping of anything.
The mayor said that they will request Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) to put street lights in the area and a separate request from the Department of Public Works and Highways for the possible installation of CCTV cameras.
The police is also calling on the public to coordinate with authorities if they have missing relatives.
The first cadaver recovered is a male wearing blue jeans, half-naked, wearing a blue-black leather bracelet with markings DHL-31.
The second is also male wearing blue denim pants and Adidas sweatshirt.
The third and the eighth cadavers have been identified by relatives through body markings.
The fourth is a skeleton wearing a K-Swiss rubber shoes, white t-shirt, white Walker brief, black denim pants, and red belt.
The fifth is also a skeleton found with blue holster brief, blue denim Wrangler pants, blue jacket with hood with markings of www.superwearhk, white Hudson undershirt, and three keys with black tag.
The sixth is wearing a tribal gray t-shirt with tribal letterings, black denim pants, with a height of 1.55 meters.
The seventh is wearing a blue striped sweatshirt, blue brief, two silver rings on the middle and ring fingers of the right hand, white t-shirt with markings, and estimated to be 1.63 meters in height. Liza Agoot and Dionisio Dennis, Jr / PNA – northboundasia.com