Garin wants PAO forensics lab merged with NBI

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The former Health chief questions the need for the Public Attorney’s Office to have its own forensics laboratory. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — Iloilo 1st District Representative Janette Garin wants the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) forensics laboratory to combine with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to save money.

Para 'wag nating sayangin ang pera ng bayad, yung ibinabayad ni Juan at Maria, ba’t di na lang pagsamahin ang NBI crime laboratory at PAO forensics laboratory?” said during the House of Representatives Plenary hearing on the justice Department’s budget on Wednesday.

[Translation: So we won’t waste the public’s money, why don’t we just merge the NBI crime laboratory and the PAO forensics laboratory?]

The former Health chief questioned why the PAO had a forensics laboratory in the first place since forensics work is not part of the agency’s mandate.

She also noted that some of the PAO’s findings were inconsistent with the results of the NBI and Philippine National Police crime laboratories. Among these were the findings on the killings of Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman, Kian De Los Santos and Christine Lee Silawan, who were all minors. She also questioned the credibility of Dr. Erwin Erfe who heads the PAO forensics lab.

During Garin’s stint as Health Secretary, it was the PAO under Persida Acosta that incited public doubt on the dengue vaccine or dengvaxia, after it spread allegations that the vaccine caused several deaths. However, studies showed the vaccine is safe for use especially on those who had dengue in the past. Garin implemented a massive vaccination drive among 800,000 children back in 2017.

“I believe it is the Secretary of Justice who can put order in the DOJ by allowing the NBI to pursue its mandate and policing PAO,” Garin said.

Compostela Valley 2nd District Representative Ruwel Gonzaga said they will look into Garin’s proposal and reevaluate Erfe’s credentials.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.