Co-sponsorship Speech: Committee Report No. 161 – An Act establishing the Philippine National Police Forensic DNA Database, Appropriating Funds Therefor

February 15, 2024

Co-sponsorship speech of Senator Loren Legarda
Committee Report No. 161

Thank you, Mr. President.

It is with honor and privilege that I co-sponsor Committee Report No. 161 or An Act establishing the Philippine National Police Forensic DNA Database, Appropriating Funds Therefor.
In the pursuit of justice, we must recognize the critical role that technology and forensic science play.

This will serve as a tool for crime prevention and solution. We can identify a person or persons who might be involved in the commission of an offense. We can prove the innocence or guilt of a person allegedly involved in the commitment of an offense. We may be able to exonerate a person wrongfully convicted of an offense. This may also assist in the identification of missing persons or missing human remains.

The establishment of a PNP Forensic DNA Database marks our commitment to the closer approximation of the truth and truth is essential in the pursuit of justice.

We must ensure however that there is integrity and utmost professionalism in the management of such databases as this will serve as reference for the processing of evidence, the arrest of persons, and even conviction.

In People V. Mateo in 2004, the Supreme Court recognized that the error rate in imposing the death sentence was 71.77%. While this is caused by different factors, the absence of sophisticated technology to help our justice system might have contributed to these errors.

Just a few days ago, Senator Robinhood Padilla spoke on the floor about a 62-year-old, Mr. Mohammad Said, who was arrested in a case of mistaken identity and was detained for over 176 days. We cannot emphasize how remorseful we should be as a government for the distress, pain, and anguish that his arrest has caused him.

The PNP Forensic DNA Database would have been able to clear him and other people arrested due to mistaken identities properly and swiftly if we had the technology.

This, in addition to the NBI Reorganization and Modernization Act or RA 10867, which I authored, will ensure that the pieces of evidence are stored, processed, and determined properly.

Mr. President, while technology is not perfect, it is better that we get closer to that approximation of truth in our criminal justice system. Lives literally depend on the pieces of evidence gathered and matched by our law enforcers.

The PNP Forensic DNA Database is not just a database, it is a testament to our collective effort to protect the innocent, pursue the guilty, and support our justice system.

Thank you, Mr. President. Isang luntiang Pilipinas sa ating lahat!