Forensic examiners of the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame have identified 63 of the 72 bodies recovered in the May 13 fire that razed Kentex footwear factory in Brgy. Ugong, Valenzuela City. Sixty of these were identified through DNA test by the PNP Scene of the Crime Operations (SOCO) – Disaster Victim Identificatiom Team (DVI), while the three others were identified immediately, that includes the company owner’s son.
PNP Crime Laboratory deputy director S/SUPT Emmanuel Aranas in a meeting with Mayor REX Gatchalian at the City Hall, June 4, said 26 of those recovered bodies were male, while 37 were female.
According to Aranas, this was made possible through DNA testing with the support of the Valenzuela City government and the cooperation of the victims’ families.
He said that the bodies burnt beyond recognition were identified after 15 days, making the DNA identification process “one of the fastest in Philippine history.” Authorities initially said the process would normally take one to two months.
Aranas also noted that their upgraded facilities and equipment for their forensic operations and a dedicated 24/7 workforce contributed to the speedy identification.
SOCO was able to identify the victims using standards provided by the families such as buccal swab samples.
“Yung mga nakuha namin na standards, karamihan doon nag-match na agad kaya ganoong mabilis (The standards we got immediately matched so the process was fast),” he told the Public Information Office.
The SOCO is set to meet the families of the identified victims today, June 4, to issue death certificates and discuss possible options for the bodies.
These include letting the 69 remains interred in Arkong Bato Cemetery or exhuming them to transfer to the victim’s hometown for final burial. Families may also opt to cremate the remains, the official said.
Mayor REX Gatchalain earlier pledged the city government would shoulder expenses should the families request the transfer or cremation of their dead relatives’ remains.
As for the remaining nine unidentified bodies, Aranas said one of the remains was too burned that it would be impossible to produce DNA materials that can help to its identification. The official vowed that SOCO would not stop until the eight others are properly identified.