Police err again in Dacera case — lawyers
MANILA, Philippines — Police threatened to file perjury charges against two of the suspects tagged in the death of flight attendant Christine Angelica Dacera after they retracted parts of their depositions.
National Capital Region Police Office chief Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. told reporters on Thursday that Rommel Galido and John Pascual de la Serna III, two of the of 11 respondents in the rape with homicide case, could face perjury charges because their statements were made under oath.
But the lawyers of Galido and De la Serna said the affidavits were illegal anyway and inadmissible in court as evidence because the police allegedly violated the suspects’ rights against self-incrimination.
“They were interviewed without the presence of a counsel and they were read promises, misrepresentations, that if they would not point to someone in relation to a drug case, they would rot in jail,” one of the lawyers, Abigail Portugal, said in a television interview.
“Not only were they pressured, they were intimidated. They were manipulated. Words were put into their mouths. They were subjected to psychological warfare because they lacked sleep. They were under duress,” another lawyer, Mike Santiago, said.
Galido and De la Serna even claimed in another television interview on Wednesday that they were not even read their Miranda rights, or the constitutional protection against self-incrimination.
Denials beside the point
The lawyers said the denials of Danao and Makati police chief Col. Harold Depositar that the two suspects were not coerced to make false statements were beside the point because interviewing a suspect without a lawyer was in itself illegal.
“There was no pressure, no torture. They were treated well,” Depositar said in a message, without mentioning whether the lawyers of the suspects were present during questioning.
Depositar noted that De la Serna, Galido and another respondent, John Paul Halili, were put in a detention cell apart from other detainees until they were released on Jan. 6, after prosecutors said the police failed to submit evidence that Dacera was raped or killed on Jan. 1 at the City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati City.
Danao also wondered why the respondents never mentioned they were intimidated by the police on their social media posts and in their previous interviews.
The Metro Manila police chief said they had already filed an amended complaint before the city prosecutor’s office with a total of 19 respondents—eight more who were occupants of Room 2207, from the original 11 respondents who were with Dacera at Room 2209 of the hotel.
The prosecutors rescheduled the hearing for preliminary investigation on Jan. 27, after the police could not provide additional evidence on the hearing set on Wednesday.
Police said they were still awaiting other evidence, particularly the results of the DNA analysis, toxicology and histopath examinations, and laboratory examinations conducted on Dacera’s body by the Makati Medical Center.
Also on Thursday, the Department of Tourism (DOT) shut down the City Garden Grand Hotel for six months, imposed a P10,000 fine and revoked the hotel’s certification to operate during the national emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the DOT said the hotel “was found to have misrepresented itself to the public as being allowed to accommodate guests for leisure or staycation purposes despite being a quarantine facility.”—WITH A REPORT FROM TINA G. SANTOS
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