Forensic expert reveals doctors ‘miscertify’ drug war victims cause of deaths

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 3) — A forensic pathologist on Thursday exposed some doctors who “miscertified” their reports on victims of the controversial drug war, citing inconsistent findings on the causes of deaths.

Meron akong collection ng 12 cases [with victims] na nabaril sa war on drugs pero tinawag ng doktor na natural cause… I'm being, you know, nice and I call it miscertify rather falsify,” Dr. Raquel Fortun told a press briefing.

[Translation: I have a collection of 12 cases with victims who were shot in the war on drugs but the doctors have declared these as natural causes. I'm being, you know, nice and I call it miscertify rather than falsify.]

Fortun presented her findings in at least 74 drug war victims whose bodies were exhumed – 27 cases were identified from Caloocan City, the area where 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos was gunned down.

The expert said only 41 of the victims underwent autopsy – 32 examined by the Philippine National Police (PNP), seven by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), one by the PNP and Public Attorneys Office (PAO), and one by the PNP and the University of the Philippines.

Of the examinations, Fortun said the 12 cases which had mis-certifications declared pneumonia, hypertension, infarction, and sepsis as causes of death.

Merong nakatatak na ‘for burial purposes only’. Ano yun? Para lang ma-facilitate ang paglibing bola bola. ‘Ito stroke yan and then hypertension’ but obviously sila ay binaril,” she said.

[Translation: There were tags of ‘for burial purposes only’. What does that mean? Just to facilitate the burial they would falsify the cause of death. ‘This died of stroke and then hypertension’ but obviously they were all shot.]

The expert noted a pattern in the mis-certified cases, saying six were signed by doctors in Caloocan – five were signed by a Dr. Amadea Cruz from the Caloocan Health Department and one physician named Ramil Razon.

Fortun also said there were no manner of deaths indicated in 55 cases – which she said could automatically be categorized as natural causes.

“So 'pag tinanong mo, ilan ang homicide niyo sa Pilpinas, saan ka bubunot, saan ka bubunot ng numbers? Nobody is keeping track of these things,” the expert said.

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) pre-trial chamber earlier authorized the resumption of investigation into the controversial drug war in the Philippines. 

Over a year after it halted the inquiry, the ICC said it is not convinced that the Philippine government is “making a real or genuine effort” to conduct probes and criminal prosecutions regarding the matter.