Surigao del Norte representative Robert Ace Barbers has proposed to institutionalize a national forensic DNA database in the country through the establishment of the Philippine DNA Database Analysis System or PDDAS.
He explained that the most important function of a DNA database is to produce matches between the suspected individual and crime scene bio-makers.
“It provides evidence to support criminal investigations which can lead to the identity of potential suspect or suspects in criminal investigations,” Barbers said.
He further said that forensic DNA can also assist in the identification of missing persons or unidentified human remains in times of accidents and calamities. Barbers said the DNA technology in the country is largely used to establish paternity and other family relationships.
The bill defines the term “DNA” as a biochemical molecule found in the cells and makes each species unique. On the other hand, the term “DNA profile” refers to the genetic information from a forensic DNA analysis.
The measure defines DNA profiling or DNA typing as a process where a minute sample of genetic DNA material is taken from a human tissue and is given a computerized numeric value in the form of a “bar code.”
The bill provides that the PDDAS, which shall be the central repository of DNA profiles in the Philippines, shall contain the forensic DNA profiles of persons classified in the following indices: crime scene index; suspected persons index; convicted offenders index; detainee index; drugs dependent index; missing persons index; voluntary index; uniformed personnel index; and government employees index.
As stated in the bill, the objective of the DNA Database is to establish, keep and maintain a comprehensive National DNA database in order to perform comparative searches for the following purposes:
- To serve as a tool for crime prevention and crime solution;
- To identify person who might have been involved in the commission of an offense;
- To exonerate a person wrongly convicted of an offense;
- To prove the innocence or guilt of person allegedly involved in the commission of an offense;
- To assist in the identification of missing persons or unidentified human remains; or
- To establish paternity and family relations and genealogy.
The proposal provides for the establishment of the Philippine DNA Database Office (PDDO) which shall manage the Philippine DNA Database Analysis System (PDDAS).
The PDDO shall be responsible for the general conduct, administration, and management of the PDDAS and other functions.
It shall be composed of three organic personnel each from the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The PDDAS and any information contained therein shall only be accessed by the Philippine DNA Database Office. They shall only access the same purposes of administering the database and comparing DNA profiles or information in the course of an investigation conducted by any law enforcement agency.
Any other law enforcement agencies who may wish to access information in the PDDAS shall get prior clearance from the PDDO.
The bill also provides for the establishment of a Philippine DNA Database System Scientific Advisory Committee for the purposes of developing DNA testing database quality assurance standards for DNA testing and databasing, including standards for testing the proficiency of forensic laboratories and forensic analysts conducting forensic DNA analysis.
The PDDAS Scientific Advisory Committee shall be composed of a maximum of 10 individuals scientifically qualified to understand, develop and adopt DNA quality assurance standards, with representatives from the University of the Philippines –Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) as chair and other government entities and institutions actively engaged in forensic DNA testing and analysis as members.
The bill imposes the penalty of 12 years and one day imprisonment or a fine of not less that P600,00, or both, at the discretion of the court for any person found guilty of tampering of DNA samples and records. — Ma. Victoria Palomar (HoR)