The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) on Tuesday evening (Aug. 11) confirmed the arrest of a member of the paralegal team seeking to reclaim the body of slain National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Echanis after it was taken by police.
QCPD Director Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo said that police arrested Paolo Colabres after he and lawyer Luz Perez appeared at Pink Petals Funeral Homes in La Loma, Quezon City early Tuesday morning to get the body of a certain Manuel Santiago, who was found dead inside his rented apartment in Novaliches.
Santiago, who was identified by police through an ID recovered from him, was actually Echanis, according to his friends and family.
Police claimed that Colabres and Perez “pretended to be the relatives of Echanis,” leading to the former’s arrest. But reporters who were present at the funeral before his arrest asserted that he identified himself as a paralegal team member and was wearing an ID.
“The duo, after presenting some documents to the supervisor of the said funeral home…pretended that they coordinated with CIDU [Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit] and was given approval to claim the body. Afterwards, they immediately transferred the cadaver to St. Peter’s Funeral Home,” the police report said.
“However, upon discovery that there was no coordination from the CIDU on the release and transfer of the body, employees of Pink Petals Funeral Home together with La Loma PS (police station)1 led by PLT (police lieutenant) Ronaldo Ambatang immediately arrested Colabres, while Atty. Perez eluded the arrest,” it added.
Police said Colabres would face charges for obstruction of justice.
Lt. Johanna Sazon, head of QCPD’s public information office (PIO), maintained that those claiming the victim’s body should first be able to prove his identity before taking custody of it.
“Hangga’t ang mga nagke-claim ay hindi po mapatunayan na siya ay si Echanis or Santiago ay mananatili po siya sa funeraria (While those claiming the body cannot establish his identity as either Echanis or Santiago, the remains will stay at the mortuary),” she said.
In an earlier interview with ANC, Sazon said that either a DNA test or fingerprints are needed to prove that the slain victim was really Echanis, although his body was already positively identified by his widow and friends.
The police based the victim’s identity on a company ID recovered from him and on an interview with his landlady.