The first week of 2021 continues to be shaken by the death of a 23-year old PAL flight attendant. Christine Dacera was found lifeless around noontime of January 1 in a hotel in Makati. According to reports, she had bruises on her body and lacerations in her genital area. The hashtag #JusticeforChristineDacera quickly became a trending topic on social media as photos of 11 suspects in the alleged rape-slay circulated online.
Among the 11 is Gregorio “Gigo” de Guzman, son of singer and businesswoman, Claire dela Fuente. De Guzman, who identifies himself as an aspiring chef and fitness instructor, shared his recollections of the last hours he and his friends spent with Dacera in the Makati hotel to Teleradyo’s SRO Tuesday evening. He has denied the accusations lodged against him and his friends, saying there is no reason he and the other men in their group would think of harming the flight attendant.
The morning after
In the interview De Guzman said he woke up at 12 noon on January 1 to reply to a message from his mother when he saw Rommel Galido (or Rom) walking towards the bathroom. According to De Guzman, Galido is Dacera’s close friend and the one who found the body of the flight attendant in the bathtub of the room at City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati.
“Guys tulungan nyo ako, parang hindi humihinga si Tin,” de Guzman remembered Galido saying. The former said he immediately rushed to check Dacera’s pulse and breathing. “So nanigas ako, natakot ako. Sabi ko, tulungan nyo ako, ilabas natin sya, kailangan ko sya i-CPR,” De Guzman told Teleradyo.
According to De Guzman, Dacera’s body still felt warm when it was moved out of the bathtub so he thought he can still revive her. He gave her CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but when nothing seemed to happen, he decided to call the hotel reception to request for a medic and an ambulance.
De Guzman said everyone in the hotel room seemed shaken by what they saw. “Pinakalma ko yung mga nandoon, kasi nanginginig sila, umiiyak,” he said in the interview, noting half the evening’s guests have by then left.
After over 10 minutes, the hotel manager and head of security came and suggested it is best to bring Dacera to the hospital. The latter brought a wheelchair to carry the body of the victim. “Nakikita ko na dumudulas na siya [sa wheelchair], kasi limp na ang body niya,” De Guzman said, his voice cracking as he recalled Dacera’s state at that time.
It took roughly 30 to 45 minutes, by De Guzman’s estimate, before Dacera was finally brought to Makati Medical Center where she was declared dead on arrival.
Last seen alive
De Guzman recalls last seeing Dacera alive between 2 to 3 in the morning, when she went to his room to give him a drink.
He can’t ascertain who Dacera was last with, as he already dozed off. Moments before their last interaction, however, De Guzman remembers her to be “super happy.”
“Siya pa ang nag-take ng TikTok naming buong grupo. Nagpa-TikTok pa sya sa phone nya. Siguro nakasampung ulit kami kaya tawang-tawa kami,” De Guzman recalled.
Asked why he thinks it is impossible for any of the men in the party to have sexually abused Dacera, De Guzman said, “Because nakita ko how they loved Tin.” While it was his first time to meet the flight attendant that evening, De Guzman saw her as very comfortable in the company of gay men. “Ang impression ko, mahilig syang mag-hangout sa kagaya namin.”
Reacting to a statement made by the chief of the Makati City police that an intoxicated gay man could still possibly sexually assault a girl, he says, “Never po akong nagkaroon ng sexual relations sa isang babae. Never po akong tinayuan sa isang babae, palagi pong lalaki.”
The SRO hosts inquired about the contents of the official autopsy report that the lawyers of de Guzman were provided with, and it indicated that the cause of Dacera’s death “is consistent with ruptured aortic aneurysm” and that “there was a presence of deep healed laceration at 3, 6, and 9 positions.” There was no indication of a semen on the genitalia of the flight attendant, according to de Guzman who read the report.
Asked what they plan to do if the PNP detains de Guzman for further questioning, dela Fuente said, “Bakit kami ide-detain, wala na nga kami sa jurisdiction ng pulis? Nasa prosecutor na kami. As far as we’re concerned, doon na kami sasagot sa mga subpoena nila, yung mga counter affidavit, doon na kami magfa-file [ng] lahat.”
“Makikinig po ako sa advice ng lawyer namin—stay put,” De Guzman told SRO. “Kasi wala namang warrant of arrest. Andun naman po ang contact details ko [sa PNP].” He clarified that he is not hiding from the police and that he even willingly went to the police station to give his testimony last January 1. He also left his contact details so they can contact him anytime.
The case of Christine Dacera caught national attention especially after her mother, Sharon Dacera, held a press conference Tuesday appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Sara, to help seek justice for her daughter. Senator Manny Pacquiao also offered to give P500,000 to anyone who could provide information that would lead to the arrest of the person behind the alleged killing of Dacera who hailed from the senator’s hometown General Santos City.