Investigators still do not have positive identification of the male and female bodies found in a motorized banca off the coast of Barangay Mangsee in Balabac, Palawan.
The bodies had previously been identified, although unofficially, by those who claim to know them, as belonging to Cristina Andig, 19, of Barangay Maloh, Siaton in Negros Oriental, and her fiancé, Bradley Jay Fugate, 44, a U.S. citizen, and temporarily residing in Barangay Camanjac, Dumaguete City.
Both went missing at sea, along with four other Filipinos, after they left Maloh, Siaton last February 13 on a motorized banca purportedly to go tuna fishing but failed to return after several days.
Senior Supt. Mariano Natuel Jr., OIC provincial police director of Negros Oriental, on Tuesday said both the Philippine National Police and U.S. investigators are cautious in the identification of the bodies until the results of DNA examinations are out.
The DNA tests are being done at the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame, Quezon City and the results are expected in a few weeks.
Ensign Cecille Jimenez, chief of the Dumaguete Coast Guard Station, also said Tuesday that information from the U.S. Embassy in Manila was that an autopsy of the bodies is no longer possible as the internal organs are already rotten and the cadavers have almost been reduced to skeletons.
She said the PNP has taken DNA samples from family members of Cristina Andig and of Elmer Sabroso, the boat operator, whose description closely matches that of the male cadaver found in Mangsee, Balabac in Palawan.
Natuel said while Josephine Andig, the sister of Cristina, had positively identified the latter, and the male cadaver as that of Fugate, investigators are reserving their conclusions until DNA testing is completed.
He added that early description of the male corpse showed the man was shorter than Fugate. Natuel said he believes that U.S. investigating authorities have also taken specimen samples from Fugate’s brother for cross-matching with that of the male cadaver in Palawan.
Meanwhile, there is still no word on the four other missing passengers of the motor banca that was positively identified as the same one found in Palawan.
Apart from Fugate, Andig and Sabroso, the others who went with them on that fateful day were Roseldo Andig, the brother of Cristina, Jovie Fundador, and Rey Tamondoc Benetes.*JFP
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