Semen sample from Vizconde massacre missing?

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 26 2010 05:45 PM | Updated as of Apr 27 2010 02:32 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Medico-Legal Division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is now conducting an inventory to determine whether or not they still have the specimen taken from the body of Carmela Vizconde, one of the victims in the Vizconde Massacre.

A source in the NBI told ABS-CBN News that the sample taken from the body is no longer with the NBI since 1996 when it was used as evidence in court. At that time, the NBI still didn't have a DNA Laboratory.

The source said that all they did was to take a vaginal smear from the body to determine the presence of semen. The samples were then placed in several slides for analysis and storage.

Another source in the NBI expressed doubt if these samples could still be used for a DNA comparison test.

"For a specimen such as a vaginal smear to be preserved, ethanol should be used, instead of formalin," the source said, adding that the specimen could be contaminated because of careless handling and storage.

ABS-CBN News was told that it was Dr. Prospero Cabayanan, then NBI deputy director for technical services, who had submitted the slides as evidence during the trial.

Lawyer Maximino Potente, then clerk of court when Judge Amelita Tolentino was still head of Regional Trial Court Branch 274, told ABS-CBN News in a telephone interview that he couldn't recall if the specimen was under the court's custody. As far as he can remember, he said the specimen is still under NBI's safekeeping.

The NBI said it was not issuing any official statements about the case for now, when ABS-CBN News asked about the specimen taken from the crime scene of the Vizconde Massacre in Parañaque.