Foul play in flight attendant’s death? Initial exam showed suspects used ‘force,’ police say

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 5)— The Makati police have yet to release the formal autopsy and medical findings on the case of flight attendant Christine Angelica Dacera, who was found dead in a hotel room after a party, but initial examination showed that suspects used “force,” its chief said on Tuesday.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Makati Police Chief Col. Harold Depositar said initial reports listed aneurysm as the cause of Dacera’s death. “Ang cause niyan, it could be very strenous ‘yung kanyang ginawa (The cause could be, what she did could be very strenous), and then high level probably of alcohol level or toxicity,” Depositar told The Source.

The police officer said that contusions and abrasions were seen in parts of Dacera’s body. Traces of semen were also found, he added.

“For sure, may force doon sa body niya. ‘Yung mga contusions na iyan, ‘yung abrasion na ito, ‘yung laceration na iyan hindi normal sa isang intercourse,” Depositar said.

[Translation: For sure, there was force on the body. Those contusions, abrasions, that laceration, that’s not normal in an intercourse.]

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 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, Depositar said.

‘Conflicting statements’

The Makati City police chief, meanwhile, relayed that the suspects had “conflicting” stories to tell in the course of the investigation.

“Sabi nung isa tulog pa siya, pero sabi nung isa, ‘yung huling nag-surrender sa atin sabi niya hindi, gising pa siya (One said she was still asleep, but the other suspect, the last one that surrendered, said she was still awake),” Depositar pointed out. He also disclosed that some of the suspects admitted they were gay.

Depositar said those who were in the hotel room could have “done something” by reporting the incident immediately.

“The problem dito, hinayaan nila ang nangyari (they just let it happen). They could have stopped it, o kaya (or) report it immediately. This is a classic example that an act of one is an act of all,” Depositar said in an interview with Balitaan.

Makati City hotel asked to explain

Meanwhile, the Tourism Department has issued a show cause order to City Garden Grand Hotel, the establishment tagged in the case, giving them three days to explain why its accreditation should not be revoked following possible COVID-19 protocol violations.

“An accommodation establishment in areas declared to be under a General Community Quarantine that is concurrently being used as a quarantine facility may not provide accommodation for leisure purposes,” the agency said in a statement.

Dacera family spokesperson Brick Reyes also said Dacera's mother Sharon is eyeing charges against the hotel management for allowing nine people to enter her daughter's hotel room, which violates quarantine rules against social gatherings.

Cries for justice continue

Dacera’s case has sparked nationwide outrage overnight, with netizens joining the family’s call for swift justice. Hashtags including #StopVictimBlaming and #ProtectDrunkGirls, among others, trended for several hours on social media, as netizens condemned her death.

The Commission on Human Rights said it was “deeply concerned” regarding Dacera’s case, noting it would be conducting its own investigation.

“CHR stands for the protection of women in all fronts of life and echoes the call for justice for Christine Angelica Dacera,” it said in a statement. “This case cannot be regarded as solved until justice has already taken its due course and that the perpetrators are held to account.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, on the other hand, said he may tap the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel probe on the matter “if needed.” “But we'll let the PNP do the initial investigation here,” he said.