Remedial Law

Rosendo Herrera vs Rosendo Alba

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G.R. No. 148220 – 499 Phil. 185 – 460 SCRA 197 – Remedial Law – Evidence – Object Evidence – Daubert Test – DNA Evidence – Vallejo Guidelines

In May 1998, Armi Alba, mother of minor Rosendo Alba filed a suit against Rosendo Herrera in order for the latter to recognize and support Rosendo as his biological son. Herrera denied Armi’s allegations. In the year 2000, the trial court ordered the parties to undergo a (deoxyribonucleic acid) DNA testing to establish whether or not Herrera is indeed the biological father of Rosendo Alba. However, Herrera questioned the validity of the order as he claimed that DNA testing has not yet garnered widespread acceptance hence any result therefrom will not be admissible in court; and that the said test is unconstitutional for it violates his right against self-incrimination.

ISSUE: Whether or not Herrera is correct.

HELD: No. It is true that in 1997, the Supreme Court ruled in Pe Lim vs CA that DNA testing is not yet recognized in the Philippines and at the time when he questioned the order of the trial court, the prevailing doctrine was the Pe Lim case; however, in 2002 there is already no question as to the acceptability of DNA test results as admissible object evidence in Philippine courts. This was the decisive ruling in the case of People vs Vallejo (2002).

In the Vallejo Case, the Supreme Court recognized DNA analysis as admissible evidence. On the other hand, as to determining the weight and probative value of DNA test results, the Supreme Court provides, which is now known as the Vallejo Guidelines:

In assessing the probative value of DNA evidence, therefore, courts should consider, among other things, the following data:

    1. how the samples were collected,
    2. how they were handled,
    3. the possibility of contamination of the samples,
    4. the procedure followed in analyzing the samples,
    5. whether the proper standards and procedures were followed in conducting the tests,
    6. and the qualification of the analyst who conducted the tests.

The above test is derived from the Daubert Test which is a doctrine adopted from US jurisprudence (Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) The Daubert Test is a test to be employed by courts before admitting scientific test results in evidence. More specifically, the Daubert Test inquires:

  1. Whether the theory or technique can be tested,
  2. Whether the proffered work has been subjected to peer review,
  3. Whether the rate of error is acceptable,
  4. Whether the method at issue enjoys widespread acceptance

In this case, the Supreme Court declared that in filiation cases, before paternity inclusion can be had, the DNA test result must state that the there is at least a 99.9% probability that the person is the biological father.   However, a 99.9% probability of paternity (or higher but never possibly a 100% ) does not immediately result in the DNA test result being admitted as an overwhelming evidence. It does not automatically become a conclusive proof that the alleged father, in this case Herrera, is the biological father of the child (Alba). Such result is still a disputable or a refutable evidence which can be brought down if the Vallejo Guidelines are not complied with.

What if the result provides that there is less than 99.9% probability that the alleged father is the biological father?

Then the evidence is merely corroborative.

Anent the issue of self-incrimination, submitting to DNA testing is not violative of the right against self-incrimination. The right against self-incrimination is just a prohibition on the use of physical or moral compulsion to extort communication (testimonial evidence) from a defendant, not an exclusion of evidence taken from his body when it may be material. There is no “testimonial compulsion” in the getting of DNA sample from Herrera, hence, he cannot properly invoke self-incrimination.

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