Dacera rape-slay ‘solved,’ says PNP; not yet, says CHR
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will conduct its own investigation into the death of a 23-year-old flight attendant during a New Year’s Day party in a hotel in Makati City, which police authorities declared as a “solved” case.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia on Tuesday said the violent death of Christine Dacera could not be considered “solved” until all the perpetrators had been held to account. The Philippine National Police has only three of the 11 suspects in custody and has yet to release its medical findings.
Dacera, a flight crew member of Philippine Airlines (PAL) Express, was found unconscious by her friends past noon on Jan. 1 in the bathtub of a room she rented at City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati, police said. She was treated at the hotel’s clinic and eventually rushed to Makati Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
Police Col. Harold Depositar, Makati police chief, said the initial report of the cause of death was a ruptured aortic aneurysm, which could be due to very strenuous activity and probably a high level of alcohol toxicity.
“For sure, there was force inflicted on her body because we found contusions in her leg and knees, and there’s an abrasion in her thigh,” Depositar said. Semen, he added, was found “in multiple places in the hotel rooms.”
Despite the lack of medical reports, the PNP Public Information Office on Tuesday released a statement announcing that the case had been “solved” and declared Dacera a victim of “rape-slay.”
PNP chief’s report
It cited a report by the PNP chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, that “the rape-slay of Christine Angelica Dacera is solved with the arrest and indictment of three suspects.”
According to the PNP manual on heinous and sensational crimes, a case can only be considered solved if the offender has been identified, there is sufficient evidence to charge him, if the offender has been taken into custody, and the offender has been charged, De Guia said.
While the preliminary investigation showed that Dacera’s death was due to ruptured aortic aneurysm, the evidence “pointed to factors of abuse, which includes forcible sexual misconduct,” she said.
“Pending the release of toxicology reports, the commission shall conduct its own investigation in coordination with local authorities to inquire about the nature of death and ensure justice for the victim,” De Guia said.
At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, lawyer Brick Reyes, the Dacera family’s spokesperson, maintained that drugs were used on Dacera and that she was abused before her death.
The family said that between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Jan. 1, Dacera “had already experienced intoxication and complained that her drinks appeared to have been spiked.”
She eventually collapsed, and they tried to use CPR to revive her. She was brought past noon to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Dacera’s family wanted to have another autopsy of her body.
Reyes said ruptured aortic aneurysm appeared on the death certificate, but not all other injuries Dacera sustained. “It is not complete as far as we are concerned,” he said.
“We also believe that maybe the aneurysm was a proximate cause but it is also very possible it was triggered by the assault prior to her death,” Reyes said.
Dacera’s mother, Sharon, said: “I came out in the open because I do not want another woman to be a victim of this kind of brutality.”
On Monday, the police filed a provisional charge of rape with homicide against the 11 suspects in the Makati prosecutor’s office. The complaint implies the absence of probable cause required to prosecute a criminal in court.
Depositar said the autopsy and toxicology findings, as well as reports of crime scene investigators, were submitted only on Tuesday. The DNA results and other examinations vital to the investigation would take weeks or months before these were released, he added.
Police have so far arrested only three of the suspects, identified as John Pascual de la Serna III, 27; Rommel Galido, 29; and John Paul Halili, 25. They underwent inquest proceedings with their lawyers on Monday night, but Depositar noted that they gave “conflicting stories” to investigators.
Three other suspects sent feelers to come out in the open to clear their names and prove their innocence. None had yielded to authorities by Tuesday afternoon.
Dacera’s employer issued a statement on the tragic death of their “upstanding and professional PAL Express crew member.”
“We are extending full support to the flight attendant’s family at this most difficult time. Our desire is for the truth to come out in the interest of justice,” it said.
ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap on Tuesday offered a P100,000 reward to anyone who could give information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects.
“Those involved in this crime have no place in our society. We will give P100,000 to anyone who will coordinate with the PNP and pinpoint the whereabouts of the suspects, or those involved in the crime who remain at large,” Yap said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
In a Twitter post, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago called for justice for Dacera as she urged the public to stop victim-blaming.
The Gabriela party list said it would file a resolution to investigate the crime.
“We strongly condemn the deplorable circumstances surrounding the death of Dacera as we join calls for truth and justice over this case. This is another proof that women are increasingly under attack in this society amid worsening impunity and shrinking safe spaces,” Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said in a statement.
—With reports from Nestor Corrales and Tina G. Santos
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.