Forensic anthropologist Jerome Bailen passes

Anna RegidorDiliman Information Office

Forensic anthropologist Jerome Bermejo Bailen passed away on Nov. 8.

Described as one of the few UP Diliman (UPD) “unforgettable professors,” Bailen specialized in forensics and would often be invited to investigate high-profile cases.

Bailen. Image from Joyce Bailen’s Facebook page

One of them was a look into the double murder of former senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. and Rolando Galman on Aug. 21, 1983.

In August 2004, Bailen was part of the UP Independent Forensic Group (UP IFG) along with medico-legal practitioner Erwin P. Erfe, and forensic consultants Benito E. Molino and Anastacio N. Rosete Jr., that Chief Public Attorney Persida V. Rueda-Acosta, DSD, asked to make a thorough review of the forensic evidence in the double murder case.

According to a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, the report essentially concludes that “it was not possible, based on the forensic study of the evidence in the double murder case, that C1C Rogelio Moreno fired at Senator Aquino as they descended the service stairway from the aircraft. They posit that Senator Aquino was shot while he was walking on the airport tarmac toward the waiting Aviation Security Command van which was supposed to transport him from the airport to Fort Bonifacio.”

They published their findings in the 2009 book Death on the Tarmac: Forensic Analysis of the Assassination of Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr.

One of Bailen’s last public engagements was a 2020 Manila Bulletin opinion piece delving into the then burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic, where he called for a “decisive and holistic approach” to public health policy.

“No amount of social distancing, face masks can prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Locking down communities and states cannot guarantee the stoppage of its transmission. Shutting down a state to prevent the transmission casts a heavy burden on human beings, the economy, and governance.., Leaders should provide everyone the chance to work, to love, and to find meaning and purpose. To let them live the way they want so long as they do not impinge upon the fundamental rights of other people. And, since government is created for the individual; it must help put the happiness of the individual at the center of everything,” he said.

A wake was conducted on Nov. 9 at the United Methodist Church at Torres Bugallon St., Lingayen, Pangasinan while a special service was held on Nov. 11, 3 p.m. at the UP Church of the Risen Lord presided over by Chaplain United Church of Christ in the Philippines Rev. Callum Tabada.

Upon the announcement of his death, messages of condolence poured in, including one from Erfe:

“Everything I am now in forensics, I owe to UP anthropology professor Jerome Bailen. I met him before I became his PhD student in UPD. I learned forensic sensitivity from him both inside his classrooms and in the field. Without him the UP IFG would not have been a reality. Maraming salamat po Kuyang Prof. Jerome. Rest in Peace until we meet again in the Celestial Lodge,” he said.

Bailen was a retired professor of the Department of Anthropology of the UPD College of Social Sciences and Philosophy.

Bailen earned his MA (Anthropology) in 1975 at UP.

Thank you, Sir!