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PIA Press Release
2009/02/05

Interpol donates P60M mobile forensic lab to RP

Cebu City (February 5) -- A mobile forensic laboratory with state-of-the art equipment worth 105T Euros or roughly P60M is donated by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to the Philippine Government through the Department of Justice (DOJ) during the Interpol's handing-over ceremony at the Malacaņang sa Sugbo this morning.

DOJ Usec. Ernesto Pineda and Interpol Sec. Gen. Ronald Noble signed a memorandum of agreement officially sealing the donation to the Philippine Government and witnessed by Defense Sec. Gilberto Teodoro Jr. who is the Chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Dir. Gen. Kathryne Bomberger and acting Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

The mobile forensic laboratory is used for the collection of blood samples for DNA test and other examinations necessary for identification processing of the remains.

For seven months now, the International Response Team composed of Disaster Victims Identification (DVI) experts from Interpol and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have been based in Cebu City to assist families and relatives of victims that were killed by Typhoon Frank, majority of whom are the fatalities of MV Princess of the Stars that capsized off the waters of Sibuyan Island in Romblon late June of last year.

Foreign and local DVI experts work round-the-clock since July 2008 to conduct blood sampling from the families and relatives of the victims for the deoxyribonucleic (DNA) testing, the only examination that can precisely identify the victims that were bloated beyond recognition.

Noble said that they have identified 513 victims of Typhoon Frank and the identification of 10 more bodies was still being processed. Over 160 bodies are yet to be identified, this is said.

Noble said an estimated over 900 people have been killed at the height of Typhoon Frank excluding the passengers of the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars. A total of more than 600 bodies have been recovered so far including those who were drowned from other smaller vessels, Noble said.

The Interpol secretary general added that there might be other bodies still trapped inside the sunken vessel.

Noble said members of the IRT team will be going back to their home base in Lyon, France while only a few will be left to assist local DVI experts in the continuing processing of the unidentified bodies.

"We expect that for the next four weeks everything will have been completed," Noble said.

Noble said the team composed of the ICMP and the NBI will be going to Panay Island, Antique and Iloilo to collect more blood samples from the families of the victims of the typhoon.

"We will fulfill our promise to identify the last body and in case more bodies from the ship will be recovered, we will be willing to come back and assist once more," Noble assured. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]

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