‘No violation’ of Ecleo’s right to privacy, prosecutors say

No single constitutional right will be violated in asking former mayor Ruben Ecleo Jr. and his three children to submit to a DNA test, the prosecution said.

In its comment to the defense’s opposition, the prosecution panel said the argument that taking of DNA samples would violate Ecleo’s right to privacy was misplaced.

“While the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind should be respected, the court can intervene to ascertain the truth. To hold otherwise will result in a frivolous situation where the court cannot issue any warrant of arrest, search warrant, subpoena or declare a person in contempt just because one’s dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind is affected,” the opposition read.

Ecleo, who heads the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, is charged with parricide for the death of his wife Alona last January 2002.

The prosecution also said the taking of DNA samples does not constitute involuntary servitude, as what the defense would want to show to the court.


They quoted legal experts’ definition of involuntary servitude as “a condition of enforced, compulsory service of one to another, or the condition of one who is compelled by force, coercion or imprisonment against his will, to labor for another whether he is paid or not.”

“Nowhere in the context of the definition does taking of one’s DNA sample constitute a transgression of the right against involuntary servitude,” the prosecution added.

The prosecution earlier asked the court to get DNA samples from Ecleo and his three children with Alona, to verify if the body of a woman found in Dalaguete, Cebu and later buried in Talisay was that of Alona.

In jeopardy

Ecleo opposed, saying it would violate his right to privacy.

He also said that directing him to give DNA samples would constitute involuntary servitude and is a violation of the rule against self-incrimination.

But prosecution lawyer Fritz Quinanola said existing jurisprudence on self-incrimination applies only to testimonies, but not mechanical acts like giving DNA samples.

The prosecution team also said the defense’s argument—that DNA testing on Ecleo and his children is no longer necessary—should not be given due course by the court because they are not experts.

“(Ecleo), in his ultimate argument, said that in the pursuit of justice and truth, we must give due regard to the constitutionally protected rights of a person. Yes, we agree,” the prosecution said.

“However, the taking of DNA samples from the accused and his children does not in any manner betray a single constitutional right. On the contrary, it strengthens justice as the truth will come out, the very truth that has long been in jeopardy over myriad manipulations and tragic fate of some of the dramatis personae of the case at bar,” they added. (GN)

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Sun Star, Philippines
Mar. 23, 2005

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday March 24, 2005.
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