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CA allows correction in 9-year-old's death certificate in 2016

The Court of Appeals has granted the petition of the father of a nine-year-old who died in 2016 to correct the cause of death entry in his death certificate from bronchopneumonia to a gunshot wound.

Lenin Baylon, 9, was hit by a stray bullet in Caloocan City on Dec. 2, 2016, in a shooting incident that also killed two women. He died three days before what would have been his 10th birthday.

Shabu was reportedly found on one of the dead women.

Based on the CA decision promulgated on November 15, 2022, there is no need for expert opinion evidence to change Lenin’s cause of death to a gunshot wound due to the “overwhelming facts and circumstances that transpired in the case.”

“Matter of factly, We find that the appellant was able to prove with a preponderance of the evidence that indeed, Lenin died due to a gunshot wound (on his right chest near his armpit) even in the absence of a post-mortem examination,” the decision read, signed by Associate Justice Roberto Quiroz.

It was concurred by Associate Justices Ramon Bato, Jr. and Germano Francisco Legaspi.

At a press conference on Monday at the Commission on Human Rights, his father Rodrigo said he was compelled to sign a waiver agreeing to alter Lenin’s cause of death for his body to be released.

Otherwise, they would have had to pay for Lenin’s autopsy, which he said they could not afford to pay.

Rodrigo sent an appeal to the Marcos administration, saying that he has a chance now to correct the lapses and human rights violations that occurred during the previous administration.

“Kay Marcos, sa bahagi niya, sa ngayon, sa mga karapatang pantao, bilang Pangulo ngayon, mabigyan niya ng tamang pamamaraan mula doon sa pagkaka-lapse na ginawa ng Pangulong Duterte ‘yung mga nangyaring direktang pagpatay sa mga biktima ng giyera sa droga,” he said.

(To Marcos, as the incumbent President, I hope that he allows the proper way to address the lapses by President Duterte regarding the direct killings of the victims of the war on drugs.)

“Bigyan niya ng kahalagahan ang karapatang pantao nang hindi na maulit,” he added.

(May he give importance to human rights so violations would not be repeated.)

The lawyers' group Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services, Inc. (IDEALS) said that the appeal to correct Lenin’s death certificate was only the first step in his quest for justice.

“Kung hindi mapapalitan ang entry of cause of death niya, dahil sabi nga bronchopneumonia sa kanyang death certificate, ito’y panghabangbuhay na magsasara sa karapatan niya at ng kanyang pamilya na may hanap ng katarungan ng pagkamatay ni Lenin,” Atty. Mario Maderazo said.

(If the entry of his cause of death would not be changed—because it says bronchopneumonia on his death certificate—this will forever be closed and so would Lenin and his family's right to seek justice for his death.)

IDEALS called for an independent and domestic investigation while asking the Philippines to rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“We call upon the Philippine government and its agents for an effective and independent investigation of all alleged extrajudicial killings. We push for accountability and we demand what is right for the people,” IDEALS Human Rights Program Manager Atty. Ansheline Bacudio said.

GMA News Online has sought comment from Malacañang and Duterte's camp.

Duterte's secretary of justice, incumbent Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said in June that the government had been looking into the mismatch between the deaths certificates and actual causes of death of some casualties.
The Department of Justice under the Duterte administration had reviewed hundreds of cases in which individuals have been killed in anti-drug operations since 2016.

Duterte launched the war on drugs when he took office that year. —NB, GMA Integrated News