Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian called for the strengthening of the ballistics database of the Philippine National Police-Crime Laboratory Service amid the perennial problem of indiscriminate firing during Christmas season.
Gatchalian, a Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) member, deplored that fact that innocent persons are either injured or killed resulting from indiscriminate firing of guns both from private gun owners and uniformed personnel especially during the New Year revelry.
A 12-year-old girl in Cavite and a 9-year-old girl in Marikina City were the latest victims of stray bullets, bringing to 17—six of whom are minors— the total number of people injured due to stray bullets since Dec. 16, four occurred on Dec. 31, seven on Jan. 1.
“Unfortunately, most of these cases remain unsolved because law enforcement authorities cannot trace the firearm from which the recovered slugs supposedly came from. It’s about time that the PNP prioritize its firearm database by procuring sufficient number of the IBIS machine,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian is referring to the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS), which was created to expedite the highly labor-intensive and time-consuming task of matching ballistics information in police investigations.
The Valenzuela City congressman pointed out that the IBIS technology was built and designed for forensic identification of ballistic information to firearms and is appropriate to use in any police department’s evidence or forensic unit.
He, however, said that a year ago, the PNP-Crime Laboratory Service has only two IBIS machines in Camp Crame which make it impossible for CLS technicians to make a database of all the registered guns in the country numbering around 1.7 million base on the latest data culled from the Firearms and Explosives Office.
“The PNP should upgrade their database technology and firearms tracking technology. Every gun in the country should be accounted for and the unique features of each gun should be kept in the database through the IBIS technology,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian said encoding the ballistics records of all the 1.7 million registered firearms in the country will be a tall order for the PNP and this will call for the procurement of a sufficient number of IBIS machines in the vicinity of two machines in each of the 81 provinces where a Crime Laboratory Office could be found in the police provincial headquarters.
This would mean a decentralization of the PNP-CLS’s ballistics department in all the 81 police provincial offices equipped with two IBIS machines and two firing tubes from which they gather the slugs and cartridges.
Ballistics science teaches that every firearm leaves unique identifying characteristics on the bullet and the cartridge during the firing process. The barrel of every firearm leaves lands, grooves, and specific marks, from the rifling—the winding pattern inside a barrel that spins the bullet to improve accuracy—on the bullet.
The firing pin leaves marks on the rear of the cartridge as it is struck, and the breech face leaves ejection marks on the side of the spent cartridge casing. These microscopic marks are similar to fingerprints. Just as no two sets of fingerprints are alike, no two firearms are the same.
The IBIS assists in the manual searching and identifying of potential candidate matches by automating the entire system and searching evidence of multiple crime scenes simultaneously. With every new image entered, IBIS compares the recovered evidence with existing images from prior crime scenes to identify possible matches. IBIS is able to search through volumes of existing images and prior evidence from crime scenes and suggests a small number of cases as potential matches.
Gatchalian explained that in addition to matching evidence from an ongoing or current investigation, IBIS can be used to link ballistic information to prior investigations and to guns used in crimes—that is, firearms that have been used in the commission of multiple crimes but that may not have been recovered in the investigation.
“It’s high time that the PNP prioritize the ballistics database of the 1.7 million registered firearms by procuring the sufficient number of IBIS machines and training technicians who will operate these machines,” said Gatchalian.
PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez had earlier vowed to go after trigger-happy men seen in a viral video firing high-powered guns purportedly during the holidays. (R. Burgos)