DOJ: NBI has identified men in room 2207, but won't reveal names until summoned

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 10) -- The National Bureau of Investigation now knows the identities of the men in unit 2207 of the City Grand Hotel in Makati, the room where flight attendant Christine Dacera and her friends joined a New Year's party before she was found dead.

This was confirmed to CNN Philippines by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, but he said he would not reveal their names until they are summoned.

The NBI is conducting its own investigation as questions hound the cause of Dacera's death.

Dacera's family, and no less than Philippine National Police Chief Debold Sinas, claimed she was raped and that may have led to her death. This is unsupported by official medico legal findings pointing to aneurysm as the cause of her death.

The Department of Justice issued the probe order to the National Bureau of Investigation because the "initial investigation by the Makati police was not thorough enough."

The lack of adequate evidence also led the Makati City prosecutor to order the release of three respondents already in the custody of the police, as well as complaints against several other individuals. The prosecutor ordered further preliminary investigation.

Aside from the NBI, the National Capital Region Office has also formed a Special Investigation Task Group to obtain additional evidence.

According to NCRPO Spokesperson PLtCol Jenny Tecson, they are facing a huge challenge as the victim's body was embalmed before the autopsy.

She said the embalming could have erased or contaminated potential evidence.

"Different thing kasi ma'am 'pag before yung embalming is autopsy. Ibang istorya po 'yon ma'am kaysa sa do'n sa na embalsamo na siya before yung autopsy. May possibility na may contamination kasi nga po nalinisan na po yung katawan ng babae syempre may mga chemicals na nilagay sa kanya 'pag inembalsamo. But still we are hoping na makakakuha po tayo ng magandang test result sa ginawa kasi ma'am may mga nakuha pa rin tayo na pieces of evidence don sa crime scene mismo mga secretion, mga fluids," said Tecson.

[Translation: It is different thing when the autopsy happens before embalming. It's a different story, compared to when a body is embalmed before an autopsy. There is a possibility of contamination because the body is cleaned, of course there are chemicals used in the embalming. But still we are hoping that we can get a good test result because we were still able to get pieces of evidence from the crime scene itself secretions, fluids.]

The NCRPO however explained that embalming a body before autopsy is supposedly a standard procedure under COVID-19 protocols.

Dacera was laid to rest Sunday afternoon at Forest Lake Memorial Park in General Santos City.