Friday, February 5, 1999  

Experts: Fingerprints..... raise doubts on corpse's identity
Bailen, others recommend Marijoy's........ exhumation

     LAWYER Sisinio Andales, counsel of Josman Aznar, announced in yesterday's hearing the findings of the Manila-based experts they hired to prove the identity of the corpse found in Carcar.

      The corpse was found two days after sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were abducted in Ayala Center on July 16, 1997.

      Andales said the experts, led by forensic anthropologist Jerome Bailen, found serious doubts as to the identity of the body, primarily the fingerprints.

      For one, forensic pathologists Adolfo Grimares wondered why the handcuff appeared to be intentionally placed around the  log near the cadaver. 

      To remove the "doubts" they recommended Marijoy's grave exhumed, a suggestion earlier denounced by the trial judge, prosecution panel and the public as "desecration of the dead".

      Asked why an exhumation is imperative, Bailen of the University of the Philippines said: "Something of value should be heard."

      Bailen added that the identity of the body is "important" to be resolved and the public will be disappointed if the identities of the victim and her victimizers continue to be clouded in doubt. 

      Bailen, in an interview with reporters, explained that they want to raise the level of forensic expertise and awareness in the country.

      "Hopefully, we can contribute a more comprehensive appraisal of the truth," he said. "Some of our judges are not even scientifically literate on forensics."

      "We are not saying we are right in the case. We're just inviting the prosecution to look at the evidence at a different perspective," he added.

      The prosecution, for its part, rested its case yesterday "after a thorough deliberation" and announce they will no longer present any more witnesses.

      Caught unprepared, defense lawyers pleaded they will present sur-rebuttal witnesses on Tuesday - - - a request granted by Ocampo. 

      After the sur-rebuttal presentation, each party will also be given 15 days each to file their position papers.

      Thirty days after, "tapos na ang boxing, (the boxing match ends)  said Judge Martin Ocampo.

      The resolution of the case will not be complete if the exhumation is not done, he said, adding that all photographs of the cadaver taken in Carcar must be further examined.

     If done carefully and with sensitivity by competent experts, exhumation would resolve doubts, Bailen explained. 

     

     For his part, fingerprint expert Reynaldo Marcelo also recommended an exhumation to ensure that the portion of the skin tissue examined by prosecution experts really came from the cadaver.

      Marcelo noted the damage of some portions of the epidermal tissues, causing "disturbance on the ridges on right and left thumbs."

      In his report, Marcelo said he doubts the identity as the ridges were "not clear and discernable."

      Paz Abis, forensic chemist, said PNP medical technologist Jude Mendoza committed errors in the collection and preservation of some specimen.

      She cited that one article was wrapped in newspaper; there was no standard for comparison of the blood; the test did not give categorical result; and the five methods in examining blood and semen were not followed.

      Odontologist Anastacio Rosite also wondered why the post-mortem dental charting of a PNP dental expert was not submitted.

      This would have been one of the solid basis for identity, he added.

      According to him, there was also no clear frontal view of the teeth which might have been compared with Marijoy's pictures showing her teeth.

      However, Judge Ocampo warned Bailen's findings will only be moot and academic since Marijoy's corpse was never discussed in the rebuttal.

      According to the judge, their findings will only be for publicity as the identity of the corpse was not touched during the rebuttal presentation.

      He did not allow the experts to testify, saying "we cannot allow that unless it rebuts the rebuttal witnesses."

      Also, Ocampo repeatedly stressed the body is immaterial to the resolution of the case as the seven accused are not charged with murder.

      Francisco Juan Larraņaga, Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Ariel Balansag, Alberto Caņo, James Andrew Uy and his brother James Anthony are tried for double kidnapping and serious illegal detention.     

      As they were denied the witness stand, the defense announced a press conference this afternoon at the Alta Vista Golf and Country Club, principally owned by the Aznars, "so that the public may know about, their expert's conclusions and recommendations".

      In the conference, Bailen and his team will explain every detail of their findings after they examined the prosecution exhibits including Marijoy's fingerprint and clothes last month.  OCD

(NOTE: For the benefit of our foreign readers, blue wordings is our translation from Tagalog (Philippine language) to English ...the webmaster).

NOTE:  1.  RED COLOR OURS FOR EMPHASIS.                                                                                
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