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29 August 2008 - Media release

Philippines NBI and INTERPOL agree to appoint permanent heads for Typhoon Frank Disaster Victim Identification Teams in Cebu City

MANILA, Philippines – Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Attorney Nestor M. Mantaring and INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble today met at NBI Headquarters in Manila, Philippines to identify ways to ensure that the identification of the victims of Typhoon Frank ferry disaster continues to move forward as swiftly, efficiently and effectively as possible. 

INTERPOL’s DNA assisted identification process is being led by the NBI’s Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) Unit and, of the 312 victims recovered, 35 have already been identified using sophisticated DNA analysis.  The DNA analysis itself is being done by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) - the world’s foremost leader in large scale, state-of-the-art DNA based identifications. 

“The first 10 victims whose DNA-assisted identifications were confirmed by the NBI-chaired Identification Board occurred less than two weeks ago, and at that time both the NBI and INTERPOL set as a goal the identification of at least 10 victims per week.  I am happy to announce that we have now identified 35 victims using DNA and have thus met our target,” said NBI Director Mantaring.

“Though a loved one can never be replaced, the families of the victims should take great comfort in the fact that the system put in place and the dedicated team of colleagues from the NBI, INTERPOL and ICMP working in Cebu City are meeting our highest expectations,” concluded NBI Director Mantaring.

Both NBI Director Mantaring and Secretary General Noble recognized how important continuity of leadership would be in order for the maximum number of victims to be identified on a regular basis, and therefore committed that both of their current team leaders (Dr. Renato Bautista for the NBI and Nimal Mahagamage for INTERPOL) would remain in Cebu City until their work was done.

“Making Dr. Bautista and Mr. Mahagamage permanent heads of our respective units demonstrates our joint commitment to doing all in our power to ensure the swift, efficient and dignified identification of the victims of this tragedy,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Noble.

“Let me also use this opportunity to encourage DNA samples to be given by victims’ family members who have not yet been able to do so,” stressed Secretary General Noble.

During the Secretary General’s visit to NBI Headquarters, he received a detailed briefing of the important anti-crime efforts under the NBI’s responsibility and met with the NBI’s Deputy Director and other senior officials.  It was the first official visit by Secretary General Noble to NBI Headquarters.