Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Philippine National Police fails to identify one of 74 Kentex fatalities

One of the 74 victims who died in the Kentex fire last May 13 remained unidentified as the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory failed to gather DNA samples to identify the body tagged as victim No. 35 that was extracted from the gutted factory in Valenzuela City.

“We have exhausted all means of identification. This is conclusive. One of the 74 victims is unidentified and that’s our findings. We cannot extract DNA from victim No. 35 therefore, we cannot identify him,” Senior Superintendent Emmanuel Aranas, PNP Crime Laboratory acting director, said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

But last June, Kentex Disaster Victim Identification team composed of Crime Laboratory personnel went back to the scene for a final search for the remains of two more victims.

The reinspection yielded the remains of Jony Descallar and Marvi Marcelino. They were added to the previous count of 72 victims in the deadly fire that struck the rubber slippers factory owned by Kentex Manufacturing Corp.

Marcelino and Descallar were added to the 68 victims who were identified through DNA test while three others were physically identified. “Overall, there were 28 male and 45 female victims, with one unknown gender,” Aranas said.

During the final search conducted on June 11, 19, 20 and 22, the DIV team gathered small pieces of bone remnants from different sites of the second floor of the building.

“A fragmented tibia bone was also recovered from the second floor far opposite where most of the burnt bodies were recovered, a strong indication that this could belong to another individual,” Aranas said.

The bodies of Descallar and Marcelino were then identified when the remnants were matched with the DNA samples from the buccal swab samples of their relatives.

“We insisted na kahit dangerous ‘yung area ay nag-search ulit kami right after maalis yung mga nakaharang na debris para ma-identify lahat ng victim,” Aranas explained.

Aranas said that the crime laboratory has coordinated with the Valenzuela City government about the two recently identified fatalities so that death certificates may be issued to their relatives.

While there remains one unidentified victim, Aranas said the DVI team were also not able to identify the relative of one of the 74 claimants. He explained that they cannot simply assume that the unidentified remains would belong to the remaining claimant.

Asked if it would be possible that Victim No. 35 is the relative of the claimant, Aranas said: “Yes, it’s possible. But based on our international system policy, we have to positively identify the victim first through scientific means. We can’t just assume that the claimant is a relative of the unidentified victim.”

This also means the claimant will not be able to avail the benefits as he has no death certificate of a relative to present.

No other means

With the failure to identify his/her remains, Victim No. 3 will remain interred at the Arkong Bato public cemetery in Valenzuela City. “‘Yung skull niya ay masyado nang nasunog. Wala na kaming makuha in any part niya na viable for DNA extraction,” Aranas said.

Asked if there are no other means to identify Victim No. 35, Aranas said: “Yes, but we exerted all our efforts.” He said the DVI had attempted to recover “even the smallest property like a piece of jewelry if she’s a female” of the said victim.

“It was very unfortunate na wala na talaga kaming makuha na pwedeng i-connect sa Victim no. 35,” he said.

But Aranas explained there is an existing law that says that a person may be legally declared dead after five to seven years despite the absence of his remains proving his death.

Tuesday 7 July 2015



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