Anda di halaman 1dari 9

Among the forensic sciences, the most recently introduced and among the most powerful means of

identification is DNA technology. By taking advantage of ones genetic code, it has become easier to link suspects to
a crime based on biological samples found in crime scenes. By taking advantage of the hereditary nature of DNA, it
has also become simpler to resolve issues of filial obligation, particularly in matters pertaining to child support or
claims of inheritance. However, in order to successfully implement this technology at the local level, support from
government and full cooperation of the community must be obtained.
Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing is one of the tools which can assist judges in deciding a case. It
provides scientific evidence based on biology and genetics. It is an adjunct of physical evidence which helps to
decide certain cases more easily and more accurately. Such physical and scientific evidence is a mute but eloquent
manifestation of truth, and ranks high in the hierarchy of trustworthy evidence.
The unique traits of DNA make it a useful and valuable tool in judicial proceedings anywhere. In the
Philippines, DNA technology has been slowly gaining acceptance. DNA testing has been used as a scientific form of
identification and proof of paternity and filiation.
Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA is a molecule that contains the instructions an organism needs to develop,
live and reproduce. DNA which contains the biological instructions that make each species unique. DNA, along with
the instructions it contains, is passed from adult organisms to their offspring during reproduction.

DNA is made up of molecules called nucleotides. Each nucleotide contains a phosphate group, a sugar
group and a nitrogen base. The four types of nitrogen bases are adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine
(C). The order of these bases is what determines DNA's instructions, or genetic code. Similar to the way the order of
letters in the alphabet can be used to form a word, the order of nitrogen bases in a DNA sequence forms genes,
which in the language of the cell, tells cells how to make proteins. Another type of nucleic acid, ribonucleic acid, or
RNA, translates genetic information from DNA into proteins.
The entire human genome contains about 3 billion bases and about 20,000 genes, all in the 23 pair of
Nucleotides are attached together to form two long strands that spiral to create a structure called a double
helix. If you think of the double helix structure as a ladder, the phosphate and sugar molecules would be the sides,
while the bases would be the rungs. The bases on one strand pair with the bases on another strand: adenine pairs
with thymine, and guanine pairs with cytosine.
DNA molecules are long so long, in fact, that they can't fit into cells without the right packaging. To fit
inside cells, DNA is coiled tightly to form structures we call chromosomes. Each chromosome contains a single DNA
molecule. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, which are found inside the cell's nucleus.

DNA evidence is especially valuable for investigating violent crimes such as homicides or sexual assaults
because blood, semen or saliva may be left behind by the perpetrator or victim. If the blood found in a suspect's car
contains the victim's DNA, this is a powerful piece of physical evidence possibly linking the victim to that vehicle. If a
perpetrator leaves behind a mask, cigarette butt or empty soda can at the scene, samples of sweat, skin cells or
saliva can be collected and the resulting DNA profile compared to samples from the parties in question.
DNA analysis has also been used to help exonerate those convicted of crimes they did not commit. These
post-conviction investigations often hinge on DNA evidence as the key information that confirms the innocence of the
individual or the guilt of someone else. Many such cases have been successful because the use of DNA analysis
was either non-existent or rudimentary at the time of the conviction.
Biological evidence may also be discovered and collected in less violent crime scenes such as vehicle break-ins,
but because laboratory resources are limited, the analysis and comparison of DNA evidence is typically conducted in
the following types of cases:
sexual assaults
hit and run
paternity case
identification of remains from mass disaster cases and missing persons
The biological material used to determine a DNA profile include:

tissue and,

How DNA Analysis is used to identify with accuracy the perpetrators of crime
DNA Evidence can link the accused to a crime or exonerate him if found to be wrongly accused. When
collected from the crime scene, it is helpful in proving that there was physical contact between the assailant and the
victim. In homicide or murder, DNA evidence can be used to pinpoint the accused as the perpetrator of the crime
when there is direct contact between the perpetrator and the victim, as in a violent struggle or attack. In incidents of
rape, semen or blood samples from the accused can be compared with those taken from the vagina of the victim.
Human tissues such as hair strands, bloodstain, saliva, and other body tissues are often left in the crime
scene. By proper collection, preservation and examination through DNA test of such pieces of tissues, their owner
can be identified.
Hair strands left by the kidnapper in cases of kidnapping, lairs, bloodstains in clothing associated with
murder, saliva stains in cigarette butts, stamps, envelopes associated with extortion, may all be used to help identify
the perpetrators.
In criminal cases, the Supreme Court has sustained the reliability of physical evidence over the biased and
uncorroborated testimonies of witnesses. The Supreme Court, in a recent case has made a pronouncement on the
admissibility of the DNA test result.

A crime scene investigator uses a swab to collect blood from a crime scene. (Courtesy of NFSTC)

A cigarette butt found at a crime scene may contain valuable DNA material in the dried saliva. (Courtesy of NFSTC)

DNA evidence from both the victims blood and the perpetrators skin cells may be available from this hammer. (Courtesy of

How DNA Typing is done

DNA typing is done by first carefully extracting the DNA from the evidentiary samples. The DNA is then
analyzed to give a particular pattern. The patterns are compared with that of a known individual to determine a
match. In individual identification, the pattern obtained from the evidentiary sample is compared with that if a suspect.
If patterns are different, the sample definitely has not originated from the suspect. If the DNA pattern of the
evidentiary sample is SIMILAR to that of the sample obtained from the suspect and not from a random individual in
the population is calculated from a formula based on well- accepted concepts of statistical probabilities and
population genetics using an established population genetic database.
In addition to unknown and reference samples, elimination samples are often collected from consensual
sex partners and others, such as first responders, crime scene personnel and analysts working the case so they can
be excluded from the investigation.

It is important that biological evidence be properly collected and preserved as it can easily degrade when
exposed to heat or humidity. Storing evidence in cool environments is preferred; however, research has shown that
room temperature conditions are suitable for storing dried stains as long as the humidity is controlled. Liquid samples
should be transported in refrigerated or insulated containers.
Most DNA samples submitted to a laboratory undergo the following process:
1. Extraction is the process of releasing the DNA from the cell.
2. Quantitation is the process of determining how much DNA you have.
3. Amplification is the process of producing multiple copies of the DNA in order to characterize it.
4. Separation is the process of separating amplified DNA product to permit subsequent identification.
5. Analysis & Interpretation is the process of quantitatively and qualitatively comparing DNA evidence
samples to known DNA profiles.
6. Quality Assurance is the process of reviewing analyst reports for technical accuracy.


Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis was one of the first forensic methods used to
analyze DNA. It analyzes the length of strands of DNA that include repeating base pairs. These repitions are known
as variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) because they can repeat themselves anywhere from one to 30 times.
RFLP analysis requires investigators to dissolve DNA in an enzyme that breaks the strand at specific points.
The number of repeats affect the length of each resulting strand of DNA. Investigators compare samples by
comparing the length of the strands. RFLP analysis requires a fairly large sample of DNA that has not been
contaminated with dirt.
Short Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis. This method offers several advantages, but one of the biggest is
that it can start with a much smaller sample of DNA. Scientists amplify small sample through process known as
Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR.
Polymerase Chain Reaction analysis makes copies of DNA much like DNA copies itself in a cell, producing
almost any desired amount of the genetic material.
Once the DNA in question has been amplified, STR analysis examines how often base pairs repeat in
specific loci, or locations, on a DNA strand. These can be dinucleotide, trinucleotide, tetranucleotide or
pentanucleotide repeats --- that is two, three, four or five base pairs. Investigators often look for tetranucleotide or
pentanucleotide repeats in samples that have been through PCR amplification because they are most likely to be
Although most labs use either RFLP or STR techniques for their DNA analysis, there are situations that
require a different approach. One such situation is when there are multiple male contributor of genetic material, which
sometimes happens in sexual assault cases. The best way to resolve the complex mixture and sort out exactly which
men were involved is Y- marker analysis. As its name suggests, this technique examines several genetic markers
found on the Y chromosome. Because the Y chromosome is transmitted from a father to all his sons, DNA on the Y
chromosome can be used to identify DNA from different males. Y- marker analysis can also be used to trace family
relationships among males.
Another situation involves identifying old remaining or biological evidence lacking nucleated cells, such as
hair shafts, bones and teeth. RFLP and STR testing cannot be used on these materials because they require DNA
found in the nucleus of a cell. In these cases, investigators often use mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, which
uses DNA from a cells mitochondria. Investigators have found mtDNA testing to be very useful in solving cold cases,
which are murders, missing- person cases or suspicious deaths that are not being actively investigated. Cold cases
often have biological evidence in the form of blood, semen and hair that has been stored for a long time or improperly
stored. Submitting those degraded samples for mtDNA testing can sometimes break the case open and help
detectives find the perpetrator.


Three types of results can occur in DNA testing: inclusion, exclusion, and inconclusive. It is important that victim
service providers understand the meaning of these terms and be able to explain their implications.
Inclusion. When the DNA profile of a victim or suspect is consistent with the DNA profile from the crime scene
evidence, the individual is included as the possible source of that evidence. However, the strength of inclusion
depends upon the number of loci (locations on the DNA strand) examined and how common or rare the resulting
DNA profile is in the general population.
Exclusion. When the DNA profile from a victim or suspect is inconsistent with the DNA profile generated from the
crime scene evidence, the individual is excluded as the donor of the evidence. However, exclusion does not imply
innocence. In a rape case, for example, a perpetrator wearing a condom could be excluded as a suspect because no
semen was found at the crime scene, but evidence found elsewhere at the crime scene may include that same
person as a suspect.
Inconclusive. Inconclusive results indicate that DNA testing could neither include nor exclude an individual as the
source of biological evidence. Inconclusive results can occur for many reasons: for example, the quality or quantity of
DNA may be insufficient to produce interpretable results, or the evidentiary sample may contain a mixture of DNA
from several individuals (e.g., a sample taken from a victim of a gang rape). As with all DNA testing results, additional
testing may be needed and findings should be interpreted in the context of other evidence in the case.


A. The general acceptance standard of Frye vs United States (D.C. Cir 1923) 293 F. 1013, is utilized
by the majority of appellate courts which have addressed the admissibility of forensic DNA
1. The test is applied to determine the admissibility of results derived from a new or novel
scientific technique.
2. The requirement of general acceptance exists due to judicial fear that lay jurors tend to
five considerable weight to scientific evidence when presented by experts with
impressive credentials. We have acknowledged the existence of a misleading aura of a
certainty which often envelops a new scientific process, obscuring its currently
experimental nature.
B. An increasing number of appellate courts utilize the relevancy or reliability or Federal
Rules standard in determining the admissibility of forensic DNA typing results.
1. These standards require the examination of a number of factors in the determination of
admissibility, subject to a variation among individual states. Factors utilized include:
a. The reliability of the scientific test itself;
b. The novelty of the technique and its relationship to the methods of analysis outside
the forensic arena;
c. The existence of a community of scientists qualified to critically examine the testing
d. The rate of error in the use of the testing technique; and
e. The existence and application of standards governing the use of the analysis method.

In the case of the judiciary, the Rule on DNA Evidence that serves to govern Philippine courts in cases when
DNA evidence exists, was promulgated by the Supreme Court in 2007. Based on this Rule, a court order may be
issued for DNA testing provided that:
1) a relevant biological sample exists;
2) the biological sample was not tested previously; and
3) that the DNA tests may generate new information that may help in the resolution of
the case.
However, given this Rule, family courts have not maximized the utility of DNA technology in routinely
requiring this evidence to provide support or negate allegations of relationships. With the development of highly
discriminatory DNA tests, it is now possible to exclude a man with absolute certainty from being the biological father
of a child as well as provide a Probability of Paternity far greater than the 99.9 percent provided for by the Supreme
Court to presume paternity. With DNA evidence assisting courts for the early resolution of disputed parentage cases,
one expects the courts to better manage their caseloads in a more efficient manner.

Besides disputed parentage cases, courts must also implement the routine use of DNA evidence in criminal
investigations. In a country highly reliant on eyewitness testimonies, the need to include objective scientific evidence
must be recognized because of the many failures of the system to convict the real perpetrator of the crime. In 2004,
the Philippine Supreme Court recognized the shortcomings of the trial courts by reporting the judicial error rate of
71.77 percent in capital cases that it had reviewed (People v Mateo).
In 2010, the Supreme Court generated mixed public reactions by overturning the conviction of Hubert Webb
and co-accused that was based solely on the testimony of a state witness. Eyewitness testimony is recognized to be
the leading cause of judicial errors in the US and elsewhere. Hence, the use of objective evidence for the fair and
swift administration of justice is beneficial for the rehabilitation of the victim as well as the protection of the rights of
those who have been erroneously accused.
The legislature must also contribute its part in making use of forensic DNA technology for the country.
Although the Rule exists to guide courts, the absence of DNA legislation to require law enforcement agencies, and
medical professionals when examining victims of crime, to collect and preserve biological samples, is a significant
factor in the under-utilization of this technology. Biological samples are needed for DNA testing.
Cases such as People vs Hubert Webb et al could have been resolved sooner, rather than later, if
biological samples collected from the body of the victim were preserved for subsequent DNA testing. In fact, many
inmates in the various Philippine penal colonies continue to claim their innocence, attributing their conviction largely
to false testimonies.
DNA Analysis can also be helpful in civil cases such as child support, disputed parentage and paternal
identification. In a comparative analysis of the DNA prints of the putative father and the alleged child, the former
cannot be deemed to be the father if his profile shoes none of the half of the DNA prints the child should have
inherited from him.
In the past, our laws (particularly Articles 172 and 175 of the Family Code of the Philippines), rules (Rule
130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence) and jurisprudence seemed to limit evidence of paternity and filiation to
incriminating acts alone. This has of course changed and the courts have gradually come to acknowledge DNA
analysis as a source of evidence to prove paternity and filiation.
In 1997, DNA testing was not yet accepted as a source of evidence to prove paternity. As stated by the
Court in Pe Lim vs Court of Appeals, DNA, being a relatively new science, it has not yet been accorded official
recognition by our courts. Paternity will still have to be resolved by such conventional evidence as the relevant
incriminating acts, verbal and written, by the putative father.
In 2004, however, the Supreme Court, in Cabitania v. Court of Appeals, reversed the decision of the Court of
Appeals (and the trial court), which ruled that paternity was adequately proved by the testimony of the mother and the
personal appearance of the child. In dismissing the petition for recognition and support, the Supreme Court stated:
In this age of genetic profiling and DNA analysis, the extremely subjective test of physical resemblance or
similarity of features will not suffice as evidence to prove paternity and filiation before the courts of law.
Finally, in 2005, two decisions of the Supreme Court categorically held DNA testing to be a valid means of
determining paternity and filiation. Agustin v. Court of Appeals involved a complaint for support whereas Herrera v.
Alba steamed from a petition for compulsory recognition. In both cases, the Court affirmed the order of the lower
court directing the parties to submit themselves to DNA paternity-testing.
The importance of DNA test in determining paternity has also been recognized by the legislators in the
United States, as shown by the text of the Michigan Paternity Law and New York Family Court Act. Notably, the
standard of accuracy imposed by the New York Code which is 99%, is conspicuously lower than that now available
through current testing techniques. As early as 1990s, DNA testing methods capable of determining paternity with an
accuracy of 99.999999% already existed. Clearly then, the reverence of both the courts and the lawmakers accord
DNA test results is largely a product of is reliability which extends to nearly in the minutest decimal point.
In the Philippines, DNA evidence, if properly obtained, carries great weight and high probative value. On
May 9, 2002, the high court admitted in evidence DNA samples from the bloodstained clothes of rape and murder
victims in the case of People v. Vallejo [G.R. No. 144656, 9 May 2002, 382 SCRA 192].

The SC said People v. Vallejo was the first real breakthrough and a step forward from March 8, 2001 when
the justices opened the possibility of admitting DNA as evidence of parentage, as enunciated in Tijing v. Court of
Appeals [G.R. No. 125901, 8 March 2001, 354 SCRA 17].
In 2001, the court knew that the University of the Philippines Natural Science Research Institute (UP-NSRI)
DNA Analysis Laboratory had developed the capability to conduct DNA typing using short tandem repeat (STR)
The learning curve of the SC on genetics was about to rise. They also knew enough in 2001 that DNA
analysis is based on the fact that the DNA of a child/person has two (2) copies, one copy from the mother and the
other from the father. The DNA from the mother, the alleged father and child are analyzed to establish parentage.
People v. Vallejo was also a leap from 1997 in Pe Lim v. Court of Appeals (336 Phil. 741, 270 SCRA 1) when
the high court's faith in DNA testing, however, was not quite so steadfast and the magistrates cautioned against the
use of DNA because DNA, being a relatively new science, (had) not as yet been accorded official recognition by our
The Supreme Court, in People v. Vallejo, provide some principles to consider in assessing the probative
value of DNA analysis:
In assessing the probative value of DNA evidence, therefore, courts should consider, among other things,
the following data: how the sample were collected, how they were handled, the possibility of contamination of the
samples, the procedure followed in analyzing the samples, whether the proper standards and procedures were
followed in conducting the tests, and the qualification of the analyst who conducted the tests.
Today, the best-known blood-typing system is ABO typing, which involves the presence of antigens on red
blood cells that are encoded by the ABO locus on human chromosome 9. In the ABO system, the A allele and the B
allele are codominant, and the O allele is recessive. Thus, if a person's ABO blood type is O, he or she has two
O alleles. If, however, a person's blood type is A, he or she has either two A alleles or one A allele and one O allele.
Similarly, if a person has type B blood, this indicates the presence of either two B alleles or one B allele and one O
allele. Finally, some people have type AB blood, which means they inherited both an A allele and a B allele.
In cases of questioned paternity, ABO blood-typing can be used to exclude a man from being a child's
father. For example, a man who has type AB blood could not father a child with type O blood, because he would pass
on either the A or the B allele to all of his offspring. Despite their usefulness in this regard, ABO blood groups cannot
be used to confirm whether a man is indeed a child's father. Because of this and several other factors, it took the
legal system some time to trust blood-typing. For example, in a famous case in 1943, the starlet Joan Barry accused
actor Charlie Chaplin of fathering her child. Although blood tests definitively excluded Chaplin as the father, the court
did not allow this evidence to be admitted, and Chaplin was ordered to pay child support to Barry. The Barry/Chaplin
case did spur the passage of new laws, however, thus launching a new era in forensic evidence.

Over time, the use of additional blood antigens, such as those associated with the MN and Rh systems,
refined the use of blood-typing for both paternity and forensics. However, such blood groups were only about 40%

effective in ruling out a man as a child's father. Then, in the 1970s, testing for human leukocyte antigens (HLAs)
added a distinguishing feature that made it possible to rule out men as fathers with 80% effectiveness.
The genes responsible for the HLA system are involved in antigen presentation to T cells. The HLA system is
highly polymorphic, with more than 3,200 different alleles identified so far (Robinson et al., 2003; Williams, 2001).
Although this vast number of alleles causes headaches for cell and organ transplants, the multiplicity of genotypes
the HLA system providesin the tens of millionsmakes it ideal for consideration in identity and paternity testing.
In parentage testing, genetic markers of a child, biological mother, and alleged father are compared to
determine exclusion or nonexclusion of the alleged father.
There are some advantages of using HLA types in parentage testing. The HLA system is inherited in a
Mendelian manner and extensively polymorphic; its recombination rate is low; mutation has not been observed in
family studies; and antigen frequencies are known for many different ethnic groups. The HLA system, however, does
not provide a high exclusion probability when the case involves a paternal HLA haplotype that is common in the
particular ethnic group. Molecular techniques using non-HLA genetic systems are widely used, and HLA typing is
rarely used for parentage testing.

Essentials of Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology (In Criminal Justice) by Arlyb DascilCaete