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Paternity and filiation — DNA testing

First Posted 14:42:00 06/12/2008

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Amidst the protestation of petitioner against the DNA analysis, the resolution thereof may provide the definitive key to the resolution of the issue of support for minor Joanne. Our articulation in Agustin v. Court of Appeals is particularly relevant, thus: Our faith in DNA testing, however, was not quite so steadfast in the previous decade. In Pe Lim v. Court of Appeals (336 Phil. 741, 270 SCRA 1), promulgated in 1997, we cautioned against the use of DNA because ?DNA, being a relatively new science, (had) not as yet been accorded official recognition by our courts. Paternity (would) still have to be resolved by such conventional evidence as the relevant incriminating acts,verbal and written, by the putative father.?

In 2001, however, we 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]:

x x x

Parentage will still be resolved using conventional methods unless we adopt the modern and scientific ways available. Fortunately, we have now the facility and expertise in using DNA test for identification and parentage testing. The University of the Philippines Natural Science Research Institute (UP-NSRI) DNA Analysis Laboratory has now the capability to conduct DNA typing using short tandem repeat (STR) analysis. The 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. Of course, being a novel scientific technique, the use of DNA test as evidence is still open to challenge. Eventually, as the appropriate case comes, courts should not hesitate to rule on the admissibility of DNA evidence.

For it was said, that courts should apply the results of science when competently obtained in aid of situations presented, since to reject said results is to deny progress. The first real breakthrough of DNA as admissible and authoritative evidence in Philippine jurisprudence came in 2002 with our en banc decision in People v. Vallejo [G.R. No. 144656, 9 May 2002, 382 SCRA 192] where the rape and murder victim?s DNA samples from the bloodstained clothes of the accused were admitted in evidence. We reasoned that ?the purpose of DNA testing (was) to ascertain whether an association exist(ed) between the evidence sample and the reference sample. The samples collected (were) subjected to various chemical processes to establish their profile.

A year later, in People v. Janson [G.R. No. 125938, 4 April 2003, 400 SCRA 584], we acquitted the accused charged with rape for lack of evidence because ?doubts persist(ed) in our mind as to who (were) the real malefactors.

Yes, a complex offense (had) been perpetrated but who (were) the perpetrators? How we wish we had DNA or other scientific evidence to still our doubts.?

In 2004, in Tecson, et al. v. COMELEC [G.R. Nos. 161434, 161634 and 161824, 3 March 2004, 424 SCRA 277], where the Court en banc was faced with the issue of filiation of then presidential candidate Fernando Poe, Jr., we stated: In case proof of filiation or paternity would be unlikely to satisfactorily establish or would be difficult to obtain, DNA testing, which examines genetic codes obtained from body cells of the illegitimate child and any physical residue of the long dead parent could be resorted to. A positive match would clear up filiation or paternity. In Tijing v. Court of Appeals, this Court has acknowledged the strong weight of DNA testing... Moreover, in our en banc decision in People v. Yatar [G.R. No. 150224, 19 May 2004, 428 SCRA 504], we affirmed the conviction of the accused for rape with homicide, the principal evidence for which included DNA test results. ? Estate of Ong vs. Diaz, G.R. No. 171713, Dec. 17, 2007

To be continued

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