PAO contradicts PNP, insists dead boy in Nueva Ecija is Reynaldo de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – A contaminated cadaver may render a DNA test inaccurate, Public Attorneys Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta said on Monday, September 11, insisting that the teenage boy found dead in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, was 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman.

She made the statement shortly after the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Monday the DNA samples taken from the dead boy's body did not match that of De Guzman's parents Lina and Eddie Gabriel.

"Ang DNA reliable yan kung 'yung specimen ay safe specimen. Kapag ho nag-mishandling puwedeng hindi tumatama ang findings," Acosta said. (The DNA is reliable only if the specimen is safe. If there was a mishandling, the results can be inaccurate.)

Acosta said that, based on the clothes the boy was last seen wearing, a comparative analysis of facial features and body markings, the De Guzman couple positively identified the dead boy as their son. 

"The parents have positively identified the body based on what he was wearing and markings," Acosta said.   

Acosta said De Guzman, known to family and friends as "Kulot," has a surgical scar in his neck and a wart on his body. Both of these, Acosta said, was found on the dead body.

PNP DNA laboratory chief, Chief Inspector Lorna Santos, said their conclusion was based on De Guzman's paternity test. That De Guzman may be adopted is also a possibility, Santos said.

"They said Kulot was their biological son. That's why they were surprised by this development in the PNP because they could clearly tell that the cadaver was that of their son," Acosta said.

Acosta added: "Parang may nanggugulo na ho sa kasong ito. Sari-sari ang lumalabas, pero ang ano ko lang sa ating mga kasama sa media, maging maingat po tayo sa paglalabas ng news." (Someone is trying to muddle up this case. Different things are coming out, so my appeal to media is be careful of the news you put out.)

The case of Reynaldo de Guzman is a vital part of the investigation into the killing of 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, who died in a police operation.

De Guzman was last seen with Arnaiz before both boys, who lived in a village in Cainta, Rizal, went missing. Several days later, Arnaiz was found dead, with autopsy results showing he was tortured before being killed in Caloocan. De Guzman was found later in Nueva Ecija, his head wrapped with packaging tape and his body bearing at least 30 stab wounds.

Acosta said they are preparing to file a double murder case.

There were new developments over the weekend as taxi driver Tomas Bagcal surfaced to say Arnaiz had really robbed him, but that the crime scene, according to him, seems staged. Bagcal said he brought Arnaiz to the police station alive. 

The taxi driver is in the custody of a human rights group. Arnaiz' parents are under the Department of Justice or DOJ's Witness Protection Program (WPP). The De Guzman family is under provisional coverage of the WPP. – Lian Buan/Rappler.com