Aguirre gives 'Kulot's' family free hand on 2nd DNA test

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2017 08:24 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said he will give the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) and the family of 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman a free hand on a second DNA test, this time, to be conducted by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). 

This, after PAO chief Persida Acosta bared to ABS-CBN News that the family is not amenable to the idea because they are already satisfied with the NBI's autopsy results. NBI officers who did the autopsy already certified in the death certificate that the remains are those of De Guzman.

Aguirre earlier tasked the NBI to conduct DNA testing on the remains of the minor boy recovered with multiple stab wounds in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, later identified as De Guzman.

Aguirre decided on the matter following a report by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that the recovered remains were not “Kulot” based on DNA testing using oral specimen obtained from his parents, Gabriel and Lina De Guzman. This announcement was made yesterday by PNP Deputy Director General for Operations Fernando Mendez.

However, the results were disputed by “Kulot’s” family through their counsel, PAO chief Acosta.

"Magtataka ka riyan kung bakit pinagpipilitan ng magulang na yun talaga ang anak nila, tapos sa DNA examination, 'di magmatch ang DNA ng magulang at ni ‘Kulot.' So, may mga explanation dyan, so dapat yan malaman natin," Aguirre said. 

“Unang una, 'di porket 'di nagmamatch eh hindi na si ‘Kulot' yung nakuhang bangkay," he added. 
 
As a former criminal law practitioner, Aguirre admitted that courts give much weight to DNA test results. However, he pointed out there are exceptions to the rule.

“Mayroon ding pagkakaton na nadidiscredit ang result ng DNA [test] kung mali ang procedure, kung tainted yung specimen,” Aguirre explained.
 
RULES ON DNA EVIDENCE

Under the 2007 Rules on DNA Evidence (October 15, 2007), the Supreme Court laid down the following standards:

- In assessing the probative value of the DNA evidence presented, the court shall consider the following:

(a) The chain of custody, including how the biological samples were collected, how they were handled, and the possibility of contamination of the samples;

(b) The DNA testing methodology, including the procedure followed in analyzing the samples, the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure, and compliance with the scientifically valid standards in conducting the tests;

(c) The forensic DNA laboratory, including accreditation by any reputable standards-setting institution and the qualification of the analyst who conducted the tests. If the laboratory is not accredited, the relevant experience of the laboratory in forensic casework and credibility shall be properly established; and

(d) The reliability of the testing result, as hereinafter provided. The provisions of the Rules of Court concerning the appreciation of evidence shall apply suppletorily.

- In evaluating whether the DNA testing methodology is reliable, the court shall consider the following: 

(a) The falsifiability of the principles or methods used, that is, whether the theory or technique can be and has been tested;

b) The subjection to peer review and publication of the principles or methods;

(c) The general acceptance of the principles or methods by the relevant scientific community;

(d) The existence and maintenance of standards and controls to ensure the correctness of data generated;

(e) The existence of an appropriate reference population database;
and, 

(f ) The general degree of confidence attributed to mathematical calculations used in comparing DNA profiles and the significance and limitation of statistical calculations used in comparing DNA profiles.

- In evaluating the results of DNA testing, the court shall consider the following:

(a) The evaluation of the weight of matching DNA evidence or the relevance of mismatching DNA evidence;

(b) The results of the DNA testing in the light of the totality of the other evidence presented in the case; and,

(c) DNA results that exclude the putative parent from paternity shall be conclusive proof of non-paternity. If the value of the Probability of Paternity is less than 99.9%, the results of the DNA testing shall be considered as corroborative evidence. If the value of the Probability of Paternity is 99.9% or higher, there shall be a disputable presumption of paternity.

“Kulot” went missing with 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz on August 17.

Carl was shot dead the day after by Caloocan City policemen after he allegedly robbed taxi driver Tomas Bagcal along C-3 Road, but his remains were found only on August 28, at a morgue. 

“Kulot’s” remains were recovered 20 days after both boys went missing.

The NBI is investigating the twin killings.