Slain broadcaster’s kin demands full probe on suspect’s death-A A +A
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
(UPDATED) The family of Palawan radio commentator and environmentalist Gerry Ortega urged the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to conduct a full investigation on the death of Dennis Aranas, a suspect-turned-witness in the broadcaster's slay in 2011.
Ortega's family asked for DILG's full probe following the Public Attorney's Office's (PAO) post-mortem examination on the remains of Aranas, the alleged lookout in the murder of the radio commentator.
"Our family demands a full blown investigation. We call on DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, who said should there be proof of a cover up he will deal due punishment to the guilty. There is proof, dear Secretary," the slain broadcaster's family said in a statement posted in the Facebook page "Justice for Dr. Gerry Ortega."
Aranas' body was found dead by fellow inmates inside the Quezon provincial jail in Lucena City last week. The PAO's initial findings found out that he was killed and did not commit suicide, which was earlier reported by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
Jail Chief Superintendent Diony Mamaril, BJMP officer in charge, reported earlier to Roxas that Aranas died by hanging inside his cell.
"Please be informed that according to the autopsy report conducted by Antonio Vertido, Medico Legal Officer, NBI, the cause of death of inmate Dennis Aranas is asphyxia by hanging," Mamaril said in his report.
A separate report from the Quezon District Jail claimed that Aranas hinted at killing himself a day before his death allegedly due to frustrations over his removal from the government's witness protection program that allegedly deprived his family of money.
But the PAO's initial report found out that Aranas did not die by asphyxia from hanging but by asphyxia secondary to manual (hand) and ligature strangulation. PAO even said Aranas was attacked, pinned down and strangled by at least four men.
"Death by Hanging is ruled out. No evidence exists to support the conclusion of death by hanging," the PAO's initial report said.
Suicide angle 'premature'
In a press conference, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima clarified on Tuesday that the NBI autopsy report did not draw any conclusion on Aranas' death yet.
"There is no finding by the NBI that it was a case of suicide. We will know the final result if everything is there already including the results of the criminal investigation being conducted now by the NBI Calabarzon," she said after meeting NBI officials including the head of the agency's medico-legal division Dr. Alvin David.
Vertido, who conducted the autopsy a day after Aranas' demise, said the person died of asphyxia by hanging because there were "ligature marks running backwards and upwards."
"But when we say hanging, it does not mean the victim committed suicide or somebody did it for him. We do not know that yet," he said.
"It must be corroborated by investigative findings. They are including a psychological autopsy profiling on the past acquaintances of the victims," added David.
De Lima, who showed to media some pictures taken during the NBI autopsy, said it is too premature to say that Aranas was killed.
"The purpose why I summoned them is not to disabuse the minds of the people that it (suicide angle) came from the NBI," she said. The NBI is an attached agency of the Department of Justice.
Roxas earlier assured that if instances of foul play and cover-up were established, those involved will be punished.
Mamaril of the BJMP earlier said the Philippine National Police in Lucena City, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Quezon Province and the NBI will continue their joint probe on the death of Aranas.
Aranas is the second witness to have died after Valentin Lecias last year. Lecias, who allegedly bought the gun used in killing Ortega, succumbed to a liver disease. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)