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Forensics unit served over 3K clients since 2013: PAO.

blic Attorney's Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta on Tuesday said her office rendered a total of 3,528 forensic services since 2013 to its clients in the course of giving them legal aid.

In a letter to Senate committee on finance chair Sonny Angara to clarify questions in the agency's budget, Acosta said in 2018 alone, a total of 2,184 services were rendered by the PAO's Forensic Services and PAO Forensic Laboratory Division.

Among the cases handled by the agency were the exhumation and retrieval operations of cadavers of the victims of the M/V Princess of the Stars at the Carreta Cemetery in Cebu and off the waters of Romblon in 2009.

The agency also handled forensic examinations for Bonita Baran, the househelp mauled by her employers whose case helped drum up support for RA 10361 or the "Domestic Workers Act" or "Batas Kasambahay".

Acosta pointed out that the agency's experts also conducted forensic examinations on minors Kian Lloyd delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo "Kulot" de Guzman, who all died in anti-illegal drug operations in Caloocan City.

Aside from its controversial part in handling the cases of deaths supposedly involving the Dengvaxia vaccine, the PAO said it also helped in the forensic examination of murder victims Richard "Red" Santillan, the bodyguard of the whistleblower lawyer Glenn Chong; and Christine Lee Silawan, 16-year-old girl who was stabbed to death and the skin on her face peeled off in Cebu.

The agency also did an anthropological examination and identification of the remains of Bishop Teofilo Camomot as required for the Vatican for his eventual canonization.

In a Senate finance sub-committee hearing Monday, Senator Franklin Drilon said he wants to transfer the PHP19.5 million funding for the PAO forensics laboratory to another agency, leaving no budget appropriation for the facility.

Drilon said PAO's move to create a forensics laboratory is a duplication of functions already performed by law enforcement agencies, such as the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.

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Publication:Philippines News Agency
Date:Sep 24, 2019
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