The Philippine National Police crime laboratory took samples as well to compare with DNA specimen taken last May 2007 from Dulmatin's children.
Dulmatin had been identified as a member of the JI who allegedly participated in the Bali bombing of 2002. The Abu Sayyaf is reportedly providing protection to Dulmatin while the US Government has offered a $10 million bounty for his arrest.
The body was recovered by troops of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao in Tawi-Tawi and military intelligence operatives with support from local PNP forces.
At the time it was exhumed in Tawi-tawi, the body had been buried for about two weeks already. The grave was reported by the lot owner to local barangay officials. Earlier intelligence reports revealed that the body belonged to Dulmatin, who was critically wounded during an encounter last January 31, 2008 in Lubbok, Panglima Sugala, Tawi, Tawi between the Abu Sayyaf and troops of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao in pursuit of the killers of Fr. Reynaldo Roda. Wahab Upao, an alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf and one of the suspected killers of Fr. Roda, was killed during the encounter.
Rear Admiral Emilio Marayag, chief of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said two weeks after the encounter, a Tawi-Tawi local named Alfa Moha surrendered to the military and recounted Dulmatin as having been critically wounded during the clash. Moha said Dulmatin may have died from gunshot wounds.
Moha was presented to the media during a press conference at the Western Mindanao Command Headquarters. He said he is not an Abu Sayyaf member but was befriended by Dulmatin, whom he refers to as “Bin.” Moha said he stayed with Dulmatin’s group for about 25 days, and after the encounter decided to surrender to the military.
Moha is a son of a local fisherman who was invited to join Dulmatin’s group, not knowing that the group was the Abu Sayyaf. He claimed that Dulmatin headed the kidnapping of Fr. Roda last January 15, and despite allegations, denied he was part of the scheme but was simply assigned to guard the escape boat.
Initial inspection of the body showed the presence of gunshot wounds on the right rib cage and left ankle, and shrapnel wounds on the right eyebrow and right cheek, similar to those acquired by “Bin” as witnessed by Moha during the firefight. But the WesminCom is not convinced that these will confirm the body’s identity.
“The body may be that of Dulmatin, but we have to wait for the results of the DNA test for a conclusive report,” said Maj. Eugenio Batara Jr. of the WesMinCom’s Public Information Office. DNA test results are expected to be released after a week.
The body was brought to the WesminCom headquarters for the recovery of DNA samples, after which a burial ceremony was held at a mosque inside the base. The body will be buried at the Sinunuc Muslim cemetery in this city. (Angel Tiamson-Saceda/MindaNews)