Christine Dacera case: Lawyers suspicious over police move to introduce new evidence
MANILA, Philippines—Lawyers of five respondents in a case involving the death of 23-year-old Christine Dacera, a flight attendant, questioned the motive for what they said was a belated move by police to reopen the case weeks after the Makati City prosecutor closed the investigation.
At a press conference on Thursday (March 4), Mike Santiago, counsel of Rommel Galido, Valentine Rosales, John Pascual dela Serna, Clark Rapinan and Gregorio Angel Rafael de Guzman, assailed what he said was doubtful and “worrying” move by the Makati police which could delay a resolution of the homicide complaint that his clients were facing.
The prosecutor conducted the fifth and last preliminary investigation hearing on the complaint on Feb. 17, and deemed it submitted for resolution.
According to Santiago, lawyers received on Wednesday (March 3) a copy of the motion of the Makati police to reopen the case and admit additional evidence that would prove that Dacera was raped and drugged before she died after a Jan. 1 party with the respondents—a turnaround of the previous evidence submitted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) itself.
The motion of the Makati police, submitted to the prosecutor on March 1, carried as attachment a toxicology report and semen analysis.
A process, called ‘immunological testing’, by the PNP Crime Laboratory Office found semen on the blanket specimens from Room 3209 of the City Grand Hotel in Makati City. Dacera died in a room at the hotel.
The testing was conducted by Maj. Herbert Tunac, forensic serologist of PNP-CLO. It was completed on Feb. 9 but received by the PNP-CLO legal division only on Feb. 18.
The toxicology analysis on “two cotton swabs with brownish red stains” found at Room 2209 of the hotel found that those were positive for 4-fluoromethampetamine and methampetamine, which are stimulants that are illegal under the Comprehensive and Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The examination was done by Maj. Hernand Donado, forensic chemist of PNP-CLO. It was completed as early as Feb. 11, but was submitted only on Feb. 20.
“Now that everybody is waiting for the prosecutor’s office to release the resolution, all of a sudden, they want the investigation to be reopened?” Santiago said at the press conference. “What is the purpose of their delaying? This raises a lot of questions on our minds,” he said.
“The evidence the police are requesting to submit are not even newly discovered. They knew all along that there were results, but they chose not to divulge. These were just old and rehashed evidence,” he added.
He was also questioning the release of the toxicology report, when the PNP had requested on Jan. 21 the University of the Philippines Manila’s UP Drug of Abuse Research Laboratory to conduct the toxicology, as the PNP-CLO lacked a particular type ofequipment, called quadruple time of flight mass spectometer.
“And yet the PNP was able to come up with this [toxicology report]. They are contradicting themselves,” Santiago said, claiming the additional pieces of evidence were “already misleading the prosecutors.”
The lawyers said they were confident the new pieces of evidence were already “inconsequential” to the complaint.
“These have no bearing. Whether there’s drug, it doesn’t affect the [rape with homicide] case,” Santiago said. “The PNP itself earlier submitted evidences (sic) which already determined the cause of death was natural, and homicide and rape were ruled out.”
The PNP-CLO’s examination of tissues and cells (histopathology) and Southern Police District-CLO’s autopsy on Dacera found that she died of ruptured aortic aneurysm.
A DNA examination of the PNP-CLO also did not find any other DNA on Dacera’s underwear except hers.
A chemistry report also confirmed that the white powder found in the crime scene was not crystal meth, but table salt.
“We are just troubled because it (the reopening of the investigation) will entail additional delay. Our client wants to move on, the public wants to move on,” Santiago said.
The respondents’ lawyers said they would wait for the order of the Makati prosecutor’s office to deny or allow the reopening of the investigation. But should the preliminary investigation resume, they said they would definitely block it.
They said they were expecting the prosecutor to reject the Makati police’s motion.
“We are hoping that we do not need to comment [on the motion] anymore,” Santiago said.
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.