UPDATED 2:06 p.m. 28 June
ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 27 June) — The staff of a funeral home here rushed out of the morgue Monday noon when a cadaver brought in by the police retrieval team in Marawi City yielded a live grenade and an empty magazine.
“Nagdinaganay mi” (We scampered for safety), Danilo Capin, funeral director of the Capin Funeral Homes, told MindaNews Tuesday.
He said the police arrived at 12:46 p.m. on Monday with a black body bag of the Department of Health containing the remains of a male who was “hapit na makalabira” (badly decomposed, almost skeletal remains).
Capin, a licensed embalmer, estimates the person must have died at least three weeks ago.
“It was a good thing our embalmer had not started the process,” he said.
Capin immediately thought of phoning the Explosives Ordnance Disposal Team (EODT) but realized he only had the number of the SOCO (Scene of the Crime Operatives). The SOCO alerted the EODT and the latter arrived within five minutes and took the bag with them.
The bag also contained a driver’s license bearing the name of Alinor Botawan Renabor of Paniaranao, Tugaya, Lanao del Sur, born on December 13, 1980. But a cousin who read the announcement posted on Facebook by Ranao Rescue Team leader Samira Gutoc about the cadaver identified through his driver’s license as Alinor, commented that Alinor is alive.
“First cousin ko po sya. Buhay na buhay po si Alinor at nasa bahay nila sa Tugaya,” Al-Ghafare Renabor told MindaNews. “I just want to clarify that Alinor Renabor is alive,” he said.
He said their uncle asked to be rescued in the Banggolo area on May 25, Day 3 of the Marawi Crisis. When Alinor passed near City Hall, the Maute Group was there and they asked for his ID card, apparently to determine, if indeed he is a Meranaw. Alinor gave his driver’s license. A member of the Maute Group told him to return after rescuing his uncle so he could claim his ID. But when Alinor was about to return, there was gunfire again so he and his uncle took another route and they arrived home in Tugaya safe, Al-Ghafare said.
The area where the Maute Group took Alinor’s driver’s license was in Barangay Bangon, where the cadaver was retrieved.
Capin said he was informed the cadaver was retrieved from a “tower” in Barangay Bangon and was turned over to the funeral parlor by Police Senior Inspector Penel Ramas, whom Capin refered to as chief of retrieval in Marawi.
He said the deceased wore a white shirt printed with the initials PNP in red but the print looked crude compared with official PNP shirts. “Murag fake man” (It looked fake).
It is the police who could answer questions as to the real identity of the cadaver with the grenade. Sr. Supt. Leony Roy Ga, Iligan City police director told MindaNews Tuesday night in a text message that that he is still awaiting the results of the investigation.
Capin said said he would suggest to the Provincial Crisis Management Committee that dead bodies brought here be checked first in Marawi. “Lessons must be learned from this,” he said.
“Imagine if the grenade exploded as the retrieval team was pulling out the body?” Capin asked in Cebuano.
The cadaver was awaiting claimants as of 9 a.m. Tuesday when MindaNews visited the funeral parlor.
It is the 21st body brought to Capin Funeral Homes from Marawi since May 27. Of the 20 brought here between May 27 and June 9, nine had been claimed by relatives while the 11, whose remains were beyond recognition, were buried in San Roque Cemetery in Barangay Dalipuga, Iligan City on June 15 after they underwent processing and tagging by the SOCO.
Capin said three relatives in search of a missing father in his 70s went to the funeral home early Tuesday morning, inquiring if the body retrieved from Marawi last Sunday was brought here, hoping it was their father’s.
The body retrieved last Sunday was an Imam. (Carolyn O. Arguillas /MindaNews)