By Aaron Recuenco and Jeffrey Damicog
The probability that 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman is still alive increased yesterday after a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) test conducted on the supposed body of De Guzman which turned up in Gapan, Nueva Ecija last week showed it was not him.
De Guzman, known as “Kulot” in their Cainta neighborhood was last seen with murder victim Carl Angelo Arnaiz last August 18. Arnaiz, according to the police was shot dead after he fired at responding lawmen and resisting arrest after he allegedly robbed a taxi cab earlier. But autopsy conducted by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) pointed to torture.
“Based on the results obtained the source of the DNA profile obtained from the male cadaver cannot be the biological offspring of Eduardo Gabriel and Nina Sta Ana,” said Deputy Director General Fernando Mendez Jr., deputy chief for Operations of the PNP.
“He is not Reynaldo de Guzman based on the DNA examinations conducted,” he added.
Chief Insp. Lorna Santos, chief of the DNA Division of the PNP Crime Laboratory, said they obtained oral swab samples from Gabriel and De Guzman and compared them with samples taken from the cadaver.
The DNA tested negative which means the cadaver could not be their son Reynaldo, alias Kulot.
“The accuracy of the test is what is really the standard of the scientific investigation. And if you are asking for numbers, that is 99.9 percent accurate,” said Santos.
The body is set to be interred Wednesday.
But PAO Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta insists it is De Guzman’s.
“Ang mga magulang ni Kulot ang mismo nag-identify sa cadaver (His parents positively him),” Acosta told newsmen in a press conference yesterday.
“May nakita sila na palatandaan o balat (The parents found birthmarks on the body),” she pointed out.
“Ang DNA reliable yan kapag ang specimen ay safe specimen (The DNA examination is reliable only if the specimen is safe),” Acosta pointed out
“Kapag contaminated, hindi po tumatama ang findings (When the specimen has been contaminated, the findings don’t match up),” she added.
When news about the body of a boy found in Nueva Ecija circulated in the social media last week, one of the neighbors showed the photo to the parents of De Guzman.
The couple positively identified the cadaver as that of their son, Reynaldo by a birth mark on the left side of the neck and a wart on the knee.
Despite these identifying marks, Mendez said there are some factors that might have forced the parents to believe that the cadaver was that of their son.
“Since it was probably bloated, probably the physical description already changed so that’s why they thought it was the body of Reynaldo de Guzman. But the DNA test conducted tell us that it’s not De Guzman,” said Mendez.
With the DNA results, Mendez said ‘Kulot’ is still considered missing.
“Since he is reported missing, we will continue looking for Reynaldo de Guzman,” said Mendez.
When pressed on the necessity of a DNA test after the body has been identified by the parents, Mendez said it is now their standard operating procedure to conduct DNA test since the PNP has the capability to do so.
But they will pursue their investigation to determine the real identity of the cadaver found in Nueva Ecija.
Talk to NBI
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday appealed to the group which has custody of taxi driver Tomas Bacgal to allow him to talk with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to ferret out the truth surrounding the death of Arnaiz.
Aguirre assured Bagcal and other witnesses that they will be given full protection under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Bagcal, 54, is currently under the custody of the group Rise Up for Life and Rights, a network of church people and human rights advocates.
Bagcal claimed Arnaiz held him up last August 18 along C3 Road in Caloocan city. Arnaiz reportedly fired a gun inside the taxi but Bagcal claimed he was able to fight back, ran after the fleeing thief and brought him to the police station alive.
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