Expert raises questions over exhumed body of ‘Ecleo’s wife’

1st autopsy failed to pass forensic standards?

CEBU CITY — A body believed to be that of Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, wife of parricide suspect and cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr., was put back to its grave at the South Memorial Park in Talisay City yesterday a day after it was exhumed for further investigation.

The exhumation was aimed at erasing doubts over the identity of the woman found stuffed in a black garbage bag at a ravine in Dalaguete town some three years ago.

The prosecution claimed it was the body of Alona but the defense said the identity of the dead woman is still vague.

The body was first autopsied by Dr. Nestor Sator of the Region 7 PNP crime laboratory when it was found in Dalaguete. Sator concluded that the woman died of strangulation.

University of the Philippines (UP) forensic pathologist Raquel B. del Rosario-Fortun said, however, that the first autopsy did not pass the standards of forensic pathology.

“There would have been no need to dig up the body had the person who did the first autopsy made a thorough examination,” Fortun said.

“Unfortunately, bitin yung initial findings sa first autopsy. It is not within my authority to comment as to the admissibility as evidence of the (first autopsy report). But as far as the first autopsy is concerned, whether it passed based on the standards of forensic pathology, the answer is, it does not. Sorry to say that,” Fortun said.

Sator should have properly documented the autopsy, made diagrams and took detailed photographs of the cadaver, among other things, she said.

Fortun examined the body for almost four hours in the morgue of St. Francis Funeral Homes. She said she had more questions than answers when she checked the body.

“I did my best to get everything that we can get. There are parts that were not properly dissected. Basic question in an autopsy is: ‘Is that really her?’ What was the cause of death? The question of identification should have been addressed already,” she said.

Fortun said her pathological report would include the manner and cause of death of the victim, calling this standard operating procedure. The DNA examination would be conducted by Dr. Corazon de Ungria of UP Diliman’s analysis laboratory.

The NBI, UP pathology department, and the PNP crime laboratory will get swab and blood samples from brothers Angelito, Ricky and Josebil to be compared with DNA from the cadaver.

Defense lawyer Orlando Salatandre called the move of the prosecution a “delaying tactic.” He said the move for exhumation was tantamount to admitting that the identity of the victim “is uncertain.”

Ecleo had denied having killed his wife, stuffing her body in a garbage bag and dumping it at a roadside in Dalaguete, Cebu on Jan. 5, 2002. He had said that he loved his wife and could not have killed her.

It took several lives and more than 100 government troopers to force Ecleo to surrender on June 18 of the same year.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Manila Bulletin, Philippines
Mar. 9, 2005
Mars W. Mosqueda Jr.
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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday March 9, 2005.
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