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CHR: Davao lot yields 'human remains'

July 8, 2009 ·  By Katherine Adraneda, The Philippine Star

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MANILA, Philippines – The continuing investigation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) into the Davao death squad has yielded skeletal remains at a privately owned property, believed to be the dumping ground of bodies of victims of summary killings in Davao City, the human rights body said yesterday.

Crime scene investigators recover human bones from a grave in Davao City in the southern Philippines. The Commission on Human Rights is currently investigating the hundreds of unsolved summary killings perpetrated by the shadowy group called the Davao Death Squad. (Photos by Keith Bacongco - AKP Images / Text by the Mindanao Examiner)

Crime scene investigators recover human bones from a grave in Davao City in the southern Philippines. The Commission on Human Rights is currently investigating the hundreds of unsolved summary killings perpetrated by the shadowy group called the Davao Death Squad. (Photos by Keith Bacongco - AKP Images / Text by the Mindanao Examiner)

Armed with a search warrant issued by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 34, which the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) had applied for, a CHR-formed inter-agency task force went to the site in Davao last July 3.

The digging resulted in the discovery of “several fragments” that were identified by police authorities as “human remains.”

The CHR said the application for the search warrant stemmed from the sworn statement of a former self-confessed member of the death squad.

The property, tagged as Gold Cup Firing Range, is allegedly owned and operated by a retired policeman, identified by the CHR as SPO4 Bienvenido Laud, alias Tatay Laud.

“The CHR-created multisectoral task force is now on the thick of its probe,” said CHR Chairman Leila De Lima.

“This site is believed to be the dumping ground of bodies of victims of summary killings, according to the informants (of) CHR,” she said.

The property, according to the CHR, could be reached after a five-minute trek from an ascending 75-degree narrow trail.

The CHR said lawyers of the alleged property owner arrived on the second day of the diggings and tried to stop the authorities from proceeding, even allegedly threatening them of criminal prosecution.

Nevertheless, De Lima said the search is still ongoing and being undertaken by the PNP-SITG team, adding that the Regional Mobile Group-11 is securing the site.

The CHR also reported that the team, while trekking to the site, chanced upon a creek “with apparently man-made pit” and found an “object” that appeared to be a bone from a human leg.

This site, however, is not covered by the search warrant, prompting the team to apply for another search warrant before the Davao City RTC, the petition of which remains pending.

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