NBI to conduct a separate probe into death of Filipina flight attendant

THE Philippine National Bureau of Investigation will conduct a parallel probe into the death of Filipina flight attendant Christine Dacera.

Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday, January 8, released Department Order 006, directing the NBI to conduct an investigation into Dacera’s death and file complaints against individuals found to be responsible for any unlawful act.

Christine Dacera | Photo from Instagram/@xtinedacera

“The NBI, through Officer-In-Charge Eric B. Distor, is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct an investigation on the death of Christine Angelica F. Dacera, who died on 01 January 2021 in Makati City and if evidence warrants, to file the appropriate charges against all persons involved and found responsible for any unlawful act in connection therewith,” the document read.

Guevarra also tasked the NBI to submit reports on the investigation.

“Officer-in-charge Eric B. Distor is hereby directed to submit reports on the progress of the subject investigation directly to the Office of the Secretary within 10 days and periodically thereafter,” he said in the document.

According to Guevarra, the parallel probe was prompted by the initial investigation of the Makati police not being thorough enough.

“From the Department of Justice’s viewpoint, the case build-up will be faster if the NBI acts independently. Note that the preliminary investigation has already been set on January 13,” he said.

“The longer it takes to examine the remains of the deceased and gather pieces of other evidence, the more difficult it becomes to establish the true cause of her death and identify any person liable therefore, if a crime was indeed committed,” he added.

Dacera, 23, was found unconscious in an empty bathtub of a hotel in Makati City on January 1 after a New Year’s Eve party with friends. She was rushed to Makati Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), after tagging 11 persons linked to Dacera’s death, filed a provisional charge of rape with homicide against three arrested suspects due to the bruises, lacerations, and fluids found on Dacera’s body.

However, the three suspects were released from police custody on Wednesday following the order of the Makati City prosecutor’s office.

“Nararamdaman ko po iyong sakit na nararamdaman nila [Dacera’s family] kasi naging parang kapatid ko siya [Dacera]. Sobrang mahal na mahal ko po siya. Para sa akin, sobrang sakit din po mawala si Christine pero sana malinawan ang pamilya ni Christine. Iyon lang po (I feel their pain because Christine was like a sister to me. I really love her so much. For me, it is really painful that Christine is gone but I hope her family will find clarity. That’s all),” said Rommel Galido.

John dela Serna said he loved Dacera so much because she became part of their lives. Meanwhile, John Paul Halili urged to wait for the results of the investigation.

“Tingnan na lang natin kung ano iyong lumabas na resulta. Hirap na hirap na po kasi ako (Let’s just look into the result that came out. This is already hard for me),” Halili said.

Another one of the suspects, Gregorio de Guzman, maintained that none of the 11 persons tagged in the case harmed Dacera.

De Guzman, who is the son of singer Claire de la Fuente, revealed that he was gay, contradicting the police’s claims that Dacera was allegedly raped.

“Paano po naging rape? Bakla po ako. Never po ako nakipagtalik sa babae ever in my life (How did it become rape? I am gay. I never had sex with any woman ever in my life),” he said.

He also revealed that he performed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on Dacera after seeing her in the bathtub.

“We found her in the bathtub with a pillow behind her head like she was sleeping. Then I checked her nose; there was no air coming out. Checked her pulse; there’s none. So, I got nervous,” De Guzman told The Manila Times.

The prosecutor’s office ruled that the evidence presented by police investigators was insufficient to show that Dacera was raped and killed.

It also noted that Dacera’s cause of death remains unclear.

For its part, the National Capital Region Police Office has formed a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) to gather more evidence and build an airtight case.

“Sa ngayon nangangalap pa tayo ng additional evidence, para ma-strengthen at gawing airtight case (Right now, we are still gathering additional evidence to strengthen and make an airtight case),” NCRPO chief Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. said Friday.

“Ang number one natin na makita natin o ma-establish is if there was a foul play at syempre kung ‘yung tao ay naging intoxicated na, if there was rape (The number one thing we need to establish is if there was foul play and if rape occurred once the victim got intoxicated),” he added.

‘Justice will be served’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte assured that justice will be served for Dacera and her family, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“Ang pangako naman po ng Presidente ay makakamit po ang katarungan sa Pamilyang Dacera (The president’s promise is that justice will be served to the Dacera Family),” he said.

“Malalaman po natin ang katotohanan at sa administrasyon po ni Presidente, dahil siya’y abogado at dati pang piskal, hindi niya hahayaan na ang mga kriminal ay hindi po mapaparusahan (We will know the truth during the administration of the President because he is a lawyer and a former prosecutor, he will not let criminals go unpunished),” the spokesman added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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