Sinas tells suspects in Dacera's alleged rape-slay: 'We will hunt you down'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 6) — Philippine National Police Chief General Debold Sinas has threatened to ‘hunt down’ suspects involved in the death of flight attendant Christine Dacera.

“This is a fair warning. Surrender within 72 hours or we will hunt you down using force if necessary,” Sinas said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The national police chief also warned that those who are aiding the suspects may face arrest.

“We know who you are," Sinas added. "Your family must turn you over to the police. Those found to be abetting your escape will also be arrested."

Sinas also assured Dacera's family that justice will be served.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' New Day on Wednesday, PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said Sinas' call is "enough" for the suspects to turn themselves in.

"That actually is a call for them to really surrender themselves as much as they have been identified," he noted. "It is enough for us to wait for the issuance of the warrant of arrest coming from the court itself because the inquest case has already been filed."

He added that the 72-hour call is similar to when Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca surrendered to authorities shortly after murdering his neighbors in Tarlac — an incident that previously went viral at the beginning of Christmas week.

READ: Cop who shot mother and son in Tarlac to face murder charges 

"This is, I guess, similar to what happened to Nuezca, when the commitment order was issued by the court following the filing of the case by the prosecutor," Usana explained. "That 72 hours is enough for us to eventually hunt them down once the warrant of arrest was issued."

The Commission on Human Rights, however, disapproves. In a statement, the CHR cautioned the PNP to be "circumspect" in launching manhunts against alleged suspects "without any legal basis such as warrant of arrest."

"The Commission reminds authorities to abide by their own rules and procedures to not cast any doubt in the regularity of police operations," the CHR said. "As actions taken at the onset of the investigation play a pivotal role in the full and transparent resolution of the case."

The commission also opposed calls to reimpose the death penalty following public clamor against the alleged rape incident. It reiterated its position that conviction and arrest are more effective in deterring crime.

"The lack of access to justice of victims of sexual violence and their families and the long persistence of misogyny and impunity in our society are the root causes of these violations," said the agency.

Case solved, but not closed

With indications of foul play in the case and persons involved have already been identified, Usana stressed that the case has already been solved, but it cannot be considered closed yet.

"It is solved because the persons or suspects have already been identified," he said. "Some were arrested...and the cases have been filed with the prosecutor, the evidence was presented so this is considered solved. But this is not considered closed yet."

Dacera was found unconscious in the bathtub of her hotel room in Makati City on New Year’s Day following a party with friends the night before, according to initial investigation. Authorities said hotel personnel tried to revive the 23-year-old flight attendant before she was rushed to a hospital, where she was declared dead.

Police have arrested three suspects and filed complaints of rape and homicide against them before the city prosecutor. Eight other persons are being hunted down, with the police deploying tracker teams to locate and contact them.