MANILA, Philippines — Despite doubts on his identity cast by the Philippine National Police, the family of Reynaldo de Guzman buried what they believe was the body of the 14-year old boy at the Pasig Public Cemetery Wednesday morning, September 13.
The same day, in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte, another young man, lumad Obello Bay-ao, 19, who was shot dead on September 5 allegedly by members of a government militia, was also laid to rest.
The PNP claimed DNA tests it conducted showed the body recovered in a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, head covered in packing tape and body riddled with at least 30 stab wounds, was not that of De Guzman, who went missing on August 18 with his friend, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19, who would be found first, supposedly shot by police when he tried to resist arrest after robbing a taxi driver.
The deaths of the three boys, which followed that of Kian Lloyd delos Santos, the senior high school student from Caloocan widely believed to have been executed by police, reignited public anger over the unabated killings that have marked the Duterte government’s war on drugs, which some tallies estimate have claimed more than 13,000 lives since last year.
Bay-ao, on the other hand, was shot dead allegedly by cousins Joven and Ben Salangani, members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit and of the Alamara, a military-backed paramilitary group that has been accused of human rights abuses against indigenous people.
Sandugo, an alliance of Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples in Mindanao, said there have been 33 documented killings of lumad and Moros under the Duterte government.
De Guzman was buried after a mass at the San Antonio Abad parish church.
His parents, Eduardo Gabriel and Lina De Guzman, have rejected the results of the PNP DNA test. The Public Attorney’s Office, which is assisting the family, also said the genetic samples from De Guzman’s parents were improperly collected.
The parents, who wore bulletproof vests and were guarded by Witness Protection Program security personnel and members of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, also warned the PNP against trying to take the boy’s remains.
“Hindi nila puwede basta-basta kuhain ‘yan ng wala kaming permiso. Amin talaga ‘yan, dugo’t laman namin ‘yan, kami gumawa n’yan (They cannot take him away without our permission. The remains are ours, our flesh and blood, our creation),” Eduardo said.
The couple was quickly whisked away to their safe house even before their son’s tomb could be sealed.