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Cebu News

DNA specimen of collision victims to be sent to Manila

AJ de la Torre, Niña G. Sumacot-Abenoja - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - On Monday, the PNP Crime Laboratory 7 will bring to Camp Crame the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) specimen from the victims of the ill-fated St. Thomas Aquinas for identification.

PNP medico legal officer Benjamin Lara said they have taken the DNA samples from the 111 cadavers retrieved from the sunken vessel, so far, and will prioritize 48 that remain unidentified.

Lara said 63 of the cadavers have already been released to their families and DNA samples were also taken from them for future references, said Lara.

"Rest assured that the cadavers were classified as identified. There were strong indications as to their identity. Hindi kami nag-rerelease based on weak parameters or identification," the doctor stressed.

Apart from DNA, Lara said they have identified the cadavers through other primary identifiers such as the fingerprints and dental swabs.

For the families hoping for the result, the Crime Lab doctor pointed out that the result may take some time, which could take years.

"As you can see, the sheer volume of the number of the victims and the relatives looking for their missing loved ones will make this a very long waiting period," he said.

While waiting for the identification of the 48 cadavers, Lara said they will look for a suitable place to bury the bodies temporarily.

"Of course, properly marked with their specific case numbers so that they may be retrieved later on by their loved ones once they are properly identified," Lara said, relating the case to the victims of the 2008 tragedy involving the M/V Princess of the Stars.

The Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI) is still drafting its recommendation following an inquiry into the collision involving the M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas and M/V Sulpicio Express Siete in Lauis Ledge, Talisay City, Cebu last August 16.

Lt. Johansen Fabilane, a member of the SBMI, told The Freeman yesterday they are still finalizing the recommendation and will submit the same to the Board of Marine Inquiry before forwarding the same to the secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

No copy of the report will be released to the press. "No. We will not release any report but we will be giving a press release as to the termination of the hearings," Fabilane said.

Since early this week, the SBMI was hoping to get more resource persons or witnesses but no one showed up at the hearings.

Members of the SBMI have already returned to Manila.

Hearings were originally slated to take place in Manila, but were brought to Cebu upon the request of Governor Hilario Davide III.

The SBMI, composed of officials from the PCG and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), started with the hearings last August 23. —/JMO (FREEMAN)

 

BENJAMIN LARA

BOARD OF MARINE INQUIRY

CAMP CRAME THE DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC

CEBU

CRIME LAB

CRIME LABORATORY

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION

GOVERNOR HILARIO DAVIDE

JOHANSEN FABILANE

LARA

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