Press Release
April 18, 2009


Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is set to file a Senate bill on Monday, 20 April 2009, calling for the modernization of the crime investigation techniques of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to meet First World standards.

"Some of the techniques employed by the PNP are hopelessly outdated," Santiago said. She cited the use by the PNP of paraffin testing in the Ted Failon case.

"Paraffin testing to determine if a person in interest has handled a gun in connection with the investigation of a possible crime is largely considered unreliable in countries with advanced crime investigation techniques," Santiago said.

When a firearm is discharged, an assortment of vapors and particulate material are expelled in the area around the firearm. These products of firearm discharge are collectively referred to as gunshot residues (GSR). Gunshot residues have been used in criminalistics to estimate firing distances, identify bullet holes, and to determine whether or not a person has discharged a firearm.

Santiago said that someone who has never fired a gun could be contaminated by someone who has.

"US studies show that it is possible to be contaminated by police vehicles. They found GSR particles in the back seats of police vehicles. A person who didn't fire a gun may be contaminated just by sitting in the back seat of a police car," the senator explained.

"It is also possible to pick up GSR particles from industrial tools and fireworks, as these have particles with a similar composition to GSR," she added.

Santiago also expressed alarm over the lack of an "evidence library" or room in most police stations.

"A police investigator who gathers physical evidence from a crime scene is responsible for the custody of such evidence, until it is turned over to the courts. The concerned police officer, if he is negligent, can even lose the physical evidence. Tampering with the evidence also becomes possible, because the chain of custody over the evidence is not strictly monitored," she explained.

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