MANILA (UPDATE) — The family of Christine Dacera, the flight attendant who was found dead at a Makati hotel on New Year’s Day, said on Tuesday they were considering filing charges against the hotel’s management and more people allegedly involved in her death, crying foul over “loose ends.”
In a press briefing, lawyer Brick Reyes, the Dacera family’s spokesman, said the City Garden Grand Hotel violated standard protocol against COVID-19 for allowing several people to stay inside its rooms.
Reyes, citing reports, said some 10 individuals were in Room 2209 on December 31, where the flight attendant stayed, while 7 people, who later on joined Dacera and her friends in the same room, stayed in Room 2207.
“We believe that's against the rules and regulations of IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 response) for operations of hotels. That is one action she would like to take,” he explained during the press conference.
He added that an unnamed hotel duty manager, who was allegedly one suspect's friend, “arranged for the use of these rooms.” The said manager was also included as a respondent in the case.
“He was on duty at the time of the incident and he admitted and confirmed by the CCTV that he was inside the room of 2209 from 1 in the morning to 6 in the morning of Jan. 1,” he said.
“There are many loose ends as of the moment and we hope that in due time we will uncover more facts,” the lawyer added.
The camp also blasted the Makati City Police, which released a suspect for questioning.
Some 7 “unidentified respondents,” meanwhile, need to be questioned and investigated, Reyes said, noting that Dacera's death involved several people.
The case currently has 11 identified respondents in the complaint.
“We have a problem with the Makati City Police Department, one of the persons should have been detained and investigated [but] was allowed to be released . . . We are trying to get an explanation why they were released and were not properly investigated,” the family’s spokesman said.
“There are other cases that they will initiate in connection with this case but right now the priority is apprehending these other individuals… We are arguing that this incident is a commission of… a group of persons that should be held accountable.”
The camp said it would also conduct another autopsy, challenging the initial autopsy and describing it as incomplete.
"Also they are saying she died of natural causes, a ruptured, aortic aneurysm, which appears in the certificate of death but doesn't include all the injuries she sustained, that's why when we saw the certificate of death, we decided to photograph Christine’s injuries," Reyes said.
"[W]hat kind of autopsy is this? Why did not you specify other injuries... it is not complete as far as we're concerned that is why we requested another autopsy," he added.
Family urges public: Stop victim blaming
Jose Ledda III, one of the family's legal counsel, said their camp is not attacking the LGBTQ+ community, adding that the public should focus instead on the issue of rape and victim-blaming.
"Siguro magiging napaka-insensitive at selfish natin kung pine-frame natin sa ganyang picture ang kabuuan ng kaso na ito. As I have said earlier, the primary issue is rape and the deeper issue is the victim-blaming culture associated with the rape," Ledda said.
(It will be sensitive and selfish for us to frame the case as such.)
"Dahil sexy ka, pag na-rape ka, kasalanan mo. Kapag umiinom ka, 'pag na-rape ka, kasalanan mo. Dahil nag-party ka, na-rape ka, kasalanan mo. Sinisisi sa babae kapag may nangyari sa kanya... Don't ever blame a girl na pagkagising niya, binaboy siya. Don't ever blame a girl na kapag nagising siya, wala na siyang damit. Don't ever blame a girl kapag namatay siya," he added.
(If you are sexy and you got raped, it is your fault. If you got drunk and got raped, it is your fault. Because you attended a party, it is your fault you got raped. It is always the woman's fault if something happens to her. Do not ever blame it on the woman if she was abused, she woke up with no clothes, and when she dies.)
Reyes, meanwhile, refuted hearsay circulating on social media alleging that Dacera was a "drunkard" and a "loose" woman who had several relationships with men.
Dacera’s mother, Sharon, said her family's fight was also a fight for victims of rape and abuse.
"I don't want [anybody] to be [victimized] again with this kind of brutality, barbaric. Binaboy niyo anak ko. Ayaw ko na mangyari ulit yan na isang babae na bababuyin niyo ulit kaya lalabanan ko itong laban ng anak ko," said an emotional Sharon.
(You trashed my daughter. I don't want this to happen to any woman again so I will fight.)
Tourism dep't serves show-cause order vs hotel
Earlier in the day, the Department of Tourism (DOT) served a show-cause order against City Garden Grand Hotel.
The agency said it was clear that the hotel violated COVID-19 protocols, most especially as a government-accredited quarantine facility.
"As a quarantine facility they are only allowed to accept a number of guest types during this general community quarantine. I understand they are not allowed to accept leisure guests," DOT-NCR director Woodrow Maquiling Jr. explained.
"You cannot mix guests who are on quarantine with leisure guests. That is very clear on the part of DOT," he added.
If the hotel broke the health guidelines, Maquiling said the agency would remove its accreditation and certificate of authority to operate.
The said hotel has 3 days to explain why its accreditation should not be suspended.
Sharon also urged perpetrators to come forward to explain what really happened before her daughter’s death.
“Gusto ko lang manawagan, lalo sa lahat ng taong involved sa nangyari sa anak ko, kung inosente kayo lumabas kayo. Kung gusto niyo patunayan na wala kayong kasalanan, lumabas kayo,” she said.
(I want to urge everyone involved in my daughter’s death, if you are innocent, then come forward. If you want to prove you had nothing to do with the crime, stop hiding.)
— With a report from April Rafales, ABS-CBN News