February 1, 2023

The dumping and eventual discovery of the eight cadavers in a ravine in Tuba, Benguet last week is an affront to the province’s peace-loving people.
Col. Elmer Ragay, Benguet Police Provincial Office (BPPO) director, said vigorous efforts are being done to solve the crime that has not only challenged the police’s peacekeeping efforts, but also dealt a telling blow on the province’s people who are known for their gentle nature.
“This is a slap on the face of the peace-loving people of Benguet and I want nothing more than to shed light on what has happened,” Ragay said, adding it was unfortunate that such an incident would happen in a locality whose police force has been adjudged as the best in the Cordillera for three years now.
Authorities retrieved on Oct. 15 and 16 eight cadavers from the ravine at Sitio Poyopoy, Taloy Sur, Tuba. Two have been identified and claimed by their families while the six unidentified remains are at the Damayan Funeral Homes along Palispis-Aspiras (Marcos) Highway, awaiting would-be claimants (See story on Families w/missing kin told to coordinate with Benguet police).
Autopsy made by the PNP Crime Laboratory revealed that two identified bodies had traumatic injuries on the chest.
A task force has been formed to spearhead the investigation of the case.
Police Regional Office-Cordillera Director, B/Gen. Ephraim Dickson, has directed the task force, headed by Ragay “to exert efforts and leave no stones unturned to unmask the perpetrator of the incident.”
“While this is an isolated case, it affects the peaceful image of Benguet and the Cordillera,” he said.
To help facilitate the identification of the six cadavers, Ragay said he has requested the other PPOs to submit a list of missing persons in their respective jurisdictions, aside from asking families with missing relatives to coordinate with the police.
He said no missing persons have been reported yet in Benguet. “That is why I reached out to other PPOs and the Baguio City Police Office and asked them to submit an inventory of missing persons in their areas.”
The bodies are believed to have been dead for two weeks and more than a month ago. The two skeletons are believed to have been dumped in the area more than a year ago, which, Ragay, said would pose a challenge in establishing their identities.
This early, Ragay said it could not be ascertained if those behind the killing and dumping of the bodies belong to one group.
He also said it is premature to conclude that the cadavers are victims of summary executions.
“Right now, the only thing we are sure of is that they were found dead at Poyopoy. We could not ascertain if they were killed only by one group or if they have previous cases. We need to investigate further as there is a possibility that they might have died somewhere else and were only dumped in the area,” he said.
Ragay said Poyopoy is known as a dumping site of bodies and it is high time stakeholders help the police to spare the roads of Tuba from being a dumping ground of cadavers.
“It’s high time that everybody gets involved. Tuba is the second largest municipality next to Itogon. The Tuba MPS has 44 personnel and has five community police assistance centers. We really need force multipliers,” said Ragay.
The Compacs are spread in the three major highways that traverse Tuba – Kennon Road, Naguilian Road, and Palispis-Aspiras Highway.
Ragay said the area where the cadavers were dumped is about 200 meters away from one of the Compacs, which, at this time, is usually supervised by one personnel, especially now that police officers are needed by the quarantine team conducting checkpoints in relation to the African swine fever scare.
“With the executive order of the governor (Gov. Melchor Diclas) that called for a strict implementation of quarantine checkpoints, there wasn’t really a chance na mabantayan ‘yung area considering na isa lang ang nagbantay sa Compac. The four other personnel are with the quarantine team conducting inspections,” he said. – Jane B. Cadalig