Monday, February 22, 2010

DNA Database in the Philippines?

1.) No. The idea of having a National DNA Database does not have legs to stand on and it will just be a waste of funds, and a recipe for disaster in the end. It is a stunning concept the fact that it helps our law enforcers quickly identify offenders, make earlier arrests, secure more convictions and provide critical investigations, but on the flip side of the coin, it creates a schema among nation the fear of having another NBN-ZTE Scandal, “hot issue” on the poll automation for next year’s election and of course, the GSIS legal action against IBM.

Before we climb up to a higher level of criminal justice system we should consider the factors that contribute positively and negatively to the interdependence of such system. After all, the institutions and actors in the criminal justice system are highly interdependent:

a.) Interdependence of Institutions – The Police, Prosecutors and the Court must join hand in hand in developing and maintaining plans and programs to uphold peace and order in a state. Since the notion of a “system” suggests something highly rational- carefully planned, coordinated and regulated, we cannot move towards next step if we could not even consider changing the current dilemma of our Philippine Criminal Justice System. The big question is “How can we appreciate system’s complex ways if even the highest officials in the legislative and judicial system tend to manipulate their functions and roles in giving justice to all. Yes it might be of great help in revealing of the real suspects of the crime but will this be unbiased? And not generate two sets justices- the one for poor and one for elite? For example, will the real perpetrators of the crime such as “kuratong baleleng” be really revealed and come out in the open?

b.) Impact on statutes and laws – There is a pending Act in the Senate (Senate Bill No. 3177) which defines cybercrime, providing prevention, suppression and imposition of penalties, but will this be enough to be used as a barometer in upholding human rights and the rule of law? Will our law providers allow us to store, retrieve, and use a DNA Database of convicts and criminals?” The technology may be available and may provide access to us Filipinos to some information, but specific state legislation is required for its implementation.

c.) Hackers and other malicious/crafty people – Need not to mention the risk of having our privacy and identity being jeopardized. There might be a threat of transforming known crimes into a more heinous and tricky one. Of course, knowing about the current database, perpetrators of the crime will definitely become crafty. They may create carefully-planned crimes that would leave unrecognizable remains, such as arson and the like.

d.) Maintenance during crash/ breakdown – Truly, there are multiple problems that would arise in any super-large database, and unfortunately would leave us people into a “wait and see situation.” We should raise some questions such as: How big is the memory? How many database servers are serving the people? How fast is the server? Considering the 88.57 Million population in Philippines with an inflation rate of 4.4%, Can it cater the needs of common people efficiently and accurately?e.)

e.) Cost – Cost of the equipment (and its maintenance) and trainings of other scientists, personnel of law enforcement agencies in DNA Analysis is essential to broaden the national capability to conduct DNA testing for forensic application must also be considered in the face of this economic depression. Time is very crucial in learning.

For management issues, it is ideal to emphasize and stress out the duties of the body tied up with our National Police- the Directorate for Investigative and Detective Management. This body keep records and as well provide data to our police, prosecutors and court in their usual investigation. Since, DIDM is into the Database Management, they have to strengthen their skills, expertise and knowledge when it comes to the nitty-gritty of DNA Database Management. As the saying goes, “the eyes cannot see what the mind doesn’t know”, so trainings and education are needed to sustain their line of duty and to be accurate in their decision and other work- related activities.

Under the issue of organizational collaboration, we must spotlight the area of expertise in natural sciences, research and forensics. Because we have to extend our knowledge on the current system, there should be also pillars of DNA Analysis Laboratory that will dedicate their service in Analysis and research. Other qualified organization that should take part is the Supreme Court of the Philippines, Philippine Judicial Academy and Commission on Human Rights. The development of this DNA Database requires thorough training, research and extension service to aid in the administration of justice to those erroneously convicted and to probably, reduce the time that accused individuals stay in prisons.

We cannot disregard the role of political factors in dealing with technological advancement. That is why we need to strike a balance among media, industry and labor leaders to ensure transparency and accountability. Since investing to this seemingly “database of a lifetime” is very risky, factors such as Maintenance during system crash and a stable and good contract with the manufacturer of such hardware and software must be upheld. The relationship also with the IT Technology and Government must also be nurtured to avoid pin pointing as to who is the culprit the time (God forbids) another “GSIS dilemma” occur.

No comments: