An x-ray result of a dental examination of a person details how the features of the person’s teeth are distinct from others. The Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) is looking at the possible issuance of a regulation that will require all industries offering “manual jobs” to keep records of their dental and fingerprints of their employees for use in cases of disasters. (Photo courtesy of Liza T. Agoot/ PNA)
BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) is eyeing the passage of a regulation, which will make it mandatory for all companies offering “manual jobs” to collect and keep a dental and fingerprints record of its workers, an official of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said Monday.
OCD regional director Albert Mogol said they will be discussing with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) the possible issuance of a regulation requiring firms to keep such records for emergency use, especially during disasters.
“Para may data base ng workers (So that there will be a data base of workers). They are working on critical areas and they are common victims of disasters,” Mogol said
After typhoons “Ompong” on September 15 and “Rosita” on October 30, Mogol said authorities have yet to identify cadavers months after their recovery.
He also said the high cost of subjecting the bodies to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) testing is another challenge.
Mogol said in identifying a cadaver after a disaster, surviving family members are asked to look at the clothing and body marks.
In case of the absence of primary marks when decomposition sets in, he said authorities turn to the dental records of the victims as a means to identify the bodies since the teeth of a person does not decompose and remain intact.
“But most of the victims do not have dental records making this process ineffective,” Mogol said.
Dental record, Mogol said is the cheapest way of identifying a person as compared to DNA testing.
In an earlier interview, Dr. Wilfredo Tierra, chief of the NBI Forensic Investigation Service, said each sample cost PHP25,000 and at least three samples are required when identifying a cadaver.
“An oral examination will take only about five minutes, the most practical, the cheapest, and easiest for comparison to use in identifying cadavers,” Tierra said.
A DNA sample from the victim, an ascendant and a descendant are required. Additional samples for a more definite result could be obtained from collateral relatives such as brothers or sisters, Tierra said.
He noted that Presidential Decree 1575, issued on June 11, 1978, requires dentists to keep records of their patients and after a lapse of 10 years from the last entry, submits the same to the NBI for use in the identification of persons to help in solving crimes and in settling certain disputes, such as claims for damages, insurance, and inheritance.
Tierra said the NBI is a repository of all fingerprints and dental records.
He said the Philippines is the third most disaster-prone country in the world and most of the victims are poor.
“We have a lot of experience when the fallback in identifying cadavers is DNA,” he said, noting the lack of Filipinos' dental records.
“Mga mahihirap na kababayan ang prone sa hazard and disasters na wala silang ganun, pero sana magkaroon ng programa kasi nakakatulong din (Our poor fellowmen are the most prone to hazards and disasters but they don't have dental records. I hope we could have a program on that because it helps),” Tierra said.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Cordillera Assistant Regional Director Araceli San Jose previously said the central office has approved their request to fund the PHP2.2 million needed for the Cordillera NBI’s purchase of reagents for DNA testing.
The reagents are needed to match the 100 samples from the unidentified cadavers found after the two disasters in 2018 and families with missing relatives. (PNA)