SOCO confirms human remains in firing range; CHR probe hampered by lack of warrant

The Commission on Human Rights-led Task Force probing the alleged dumping ground of bodies of summary killings in Davao City has found human skeletal remains but its probe has been hampered by the delay in the issuance of a search warrant from the local court.

This was revealed by CHR Chairperson Leila M. De Lima in a statement dated July 7, 2009.

The original search warrant being held by the Task Force has been issued by The Regional Trial Court Branch 34 of Manila. While the warrant authorized them to search a burial site within the Gold Cup Firing Range owned by retired policeman Bienvenido Laud, it did not however include a man-made pit in a creek where they found a human leg bone.

“The team immediately endeavoured to apply for a new search warrant at the RTC-Davao City; the application was however passed from one judge up to the fourth who appeared to reluctantly conduct the summary proceedings,” the statement said. It added that the presiding judge made a very discouraging comment “alam nyo ba ginagawa nyo?”

The CHR said the presiding judge promised to act on the application before 5PM of July 6 but directed the applicant to wait for the following day July 7. The CHR statement was sent to NBN Davao at 1PM of July 8 sans any update as to the status of the warrant application.

The PNP Special Investigation Task Group or SITG applied for the original search warrant based on the “sworn statement of a former self-confessed DDS member/eyewitness” under the belief that the Gold Cup Firing Range has been used as a dumping ground of bodies of victims of summary killings in the city.

CHR said the digging, which was led by SITG’s PSSupt. Fajardo, “resulted in the findings of several fragments identified by the SOCO as human remains”. With such a positive result, CHR said, “The team is very optimistic that more remnants of summary executions are about to be unearthed.”

The other members of the SITG Team implementing the search warrant include CIDG-NCR under PS1 Sy, CLS led by PCI Palmero, Atty. Villena of HRAO, CIDG PRO XI’s PSupt. Masauding assisted by the Regional Mobile Group led by PSupt Quinsay, PACER Mindanao led by PSupt Briones. (photos by: Rene Lumawag)

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