Pathologist raises alarm over police visits

The country’s top forensic pathologist revealed feeling harassed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for visits to her office in connection with her autopsy on 17 year olds Jemboy Baltazar and Kian delos Santos.

Dr.  Raquel Fortun said members of the Navotas PNP visited her in relation to her autopsy of Baltazar killed by their men last August 2 and the Caloocan PNP in relation to the bullet she extracted from delos Santos’ cadaver in August 2017.

“Yes, you know where to find me,” Fortun said of the police visits, adding she is just putting out the information “for whatever protection this disclosure could offer.”

The pathologist then asked his X (formerly Twitter) followers to make some noise if something happens to her.

“I take some comfort in that. Thanks,” she added.

Fortun also revealed in a series of tweets since the weekend that public prosecutors from the Department of Justice have visited her, but gave no further details.

She however asked, “Wasn’t it your job to investigate? Why harass me for my findings?”

Fortun had been conducting autopsies on presumed victims of extrajudicial killings by the police and the military upon requests by their respective families.

Aside from police killing victims, Fortun has also conducted autopsies on victims of the so-called Bloody Sunday Massacre victims in Cavite and Batangas in March 21, National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants Randall Echanis and Ericson Acosta, Lumad teacher Chad Booc, among others.

Counterfoil to impunity

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) expressed “serious concern” about Fortun’s warning, saying the threat must only be related to the pathologist’s autopsy on Baltazar.

“The manner of the visit points to intimidation,” BAYAN president Renato Reyes Jr. in a statement Tuesday said.

Reyes said the police cannot ask Fortun to disclose the autopsy findings because these can only be given to the victim’s family who requested for the procedure.

“Only the victim’s family can authorize the public disclosure of the autopsy findings. The PNP should know this basic procedure,” Reyes added.

BAYAN said Fortun’s work is important for human rights in the Philippines as it serves as a counterfoil to impunity.

“She must be allowed to perform her work without police interference and intimidation,” the group said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)