DOJ turns over discovered skeletal remains to NBI, admits unaware of no-touch rule

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 25) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday said it has turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for examination the skeletal remains discovered inside its compound.

DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano told reporters that the human bones found on Thursday were estimated to belong to three to five people.

Department officials also met with forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun and an anthropologist later in the day to tackle the issue.

Clavano admitted the DOJ did not know it would have been best if the skeletal remains had not yet been moved.

“She (Fortun) advised us the next time na makuha natin ‘yung ganung klaseng [we discover such] skeleton or remains, not to touch it,” Clavano said.

“‘Di po natin alam ‘yun that's why tinurn over kaagad namin sa NBI [We did not know that, that’s why we immediately turned them over to the NBI]. So, we will consult with her again as to what we can do and what we can find pa dito sa mga skeletons na nahanap [what else we can discover from the skeletons we found],” he added.

The DOJ expects the report from the NBI within the day or early next week, according to the spokesman.

Clavano said the bones were found in the excavation site for the DOJ library that will be built.

Archaeological site?


As questions mount on the source of the skeletal remains, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said authorities are also looking into the “social context” of the agency’s location.

“So we’re looking at this as a probable archaeological site. Baka (maybe) this might be a war time,” Remulla said in a separate interview.

According to government documents, the seat of the DOJ compound was once part of the University of the Philippines (UP) before World War II.

It then became the Justice Complex after the war — when UP transferred to its Quezon City campus as most of its buildings were destroyed during the Battle of Manila.

Meanwhile, Fortun noted that this is not the first case of such discovery.

“I know of a case a few years back na may nahukay din… ganyan na naman halo-halo ‘yung skull. Pinulot-pulot nung mga workers. Wala na,” she recalled.

[Translation: I know of a case a few years back they also recovered remains like that. But they were touched by workers.]