MANILA (UPDATE2) — A women's rights advocate urged the Philippine National Police on Wednesday to be "be more circumspect in putting out information" regarding the case of flight attendant Christine Dacera.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, June Ambrosio, who is also a lawyer from the University of the Philippines, said the public as well need to learn a lot more on gender sensitivity.
Ambrosio noted the PNP supposedly has enough training on gender sensitivity and crime investigation, including on SOCO, so its personnel should know better.
Netizens slammed PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas after he declared Dacera’s case "solved".
The 23-year-old flight attendant was found dead on New Year's Day in a Makati City hotel after partying with some men the night before. An initial medico-legal report concluded that the cause of death was “consistent with ruptured aortic aneurysm", but the Makati police later said it was a rape-slay case.
Members of the LGBTQ community cried foul over rape accusations, saying everyone at the party with Dacera were gay, and unlikely to commit such crime.
On Tuesday, Sinas gave a 72-hour ultimatum for all those supposedly involved to surrender or they will be hunted down.
“Bago ka maglabas ng anuman, dapat siguradong sigurado sa kanilang sinasabi,” Ambrosio said.
(Before you release any statement, make sure that it's verified.)
“Paanong suspects? Na-determine na raw yung crime? Yung PR work nila, they have to do something kasi medyo ilang incidents negative ang dating sa pulis. Siguro kailangan magpabango sila? Pero not this case, at the expense of the biktima. Nabiktima na, nabiktima pa ulit,” Ambrosio said.
(How did they become suspects? Has the crime been determined?They have to do something for their PR because there have been recent incidents that put the police in a bad light. Maybe they need to do something to save their image? But not at the expense of this case, not at the expense of the victim. That would make her a victim twice over.)
In a Twitter post, former Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Ted Te said, “lawyers who are also police officers should give El Hefe (CPNP Sinas) better advice on basic criminal procedure.”
“You can’t call for a manhunt or demand a surrender if no case had been filed or warrant issued,” Te said.
Addressing the public on the need to be gender-sensitive, Ambrosio said, "Bakit, dahil babae siya? Dahil single siya? Dahil maganda siya? Dahil yung mga pictures na lumabas sa kanya, medyo sexy yung dating? Think about it. Kung halimbawa, lalaki ito, namatay, naglasingan, etc., there won’t be such an outcry na ganyan. Walang ibe-blame na kasi lasing ka, nag-party ka, kababae mo, kalalaki mong tao, wala ka sa pamilya mo.”
(Just because she’s a woman? Single? Pretty? Because there are sexy pictures of her circulating? Think about it. If it happened to a man who died after heavy drinking, there won’t be such an outcry like this. No one will be blamed for being drunk, for partying, for not being with family.)
A sociologist, meanwhile, cited how discourse regarding Dacera's death is affected by the patriarchal mindset — even though there is already a push for women empowerment.
Dr. Jayeel Cornelio of Ateneo de Manila University said it is seldom that rapists get blamed for rape. Most of the time, it is the victim who gets blamed.
“Bakit nangyayari ang rape? That needs to be confronted. Sinisisi yung babae, pero hindi sinisisi yung rapist. Our society blames those sectors we critically don't understand very well. Madali sisihin for example ang mga gay men. Madali magsabi ng scapegoat,” Cornelio said.
(Why does rape happen?... We always blame the woman, but not the rapist... It is easy to blame gay men. It is easy to have scapegoats.)
On Tuesday, Police Col. Harold Depositar, Makati City’s chief of police, said of gay men: "Lalaki pa rin sila. May instinct yan, lalo na if you're under the influence of intoxicating alcohol. Tapos, kung may presence pa of drugs yan, eh di lalo na."
This statement, according to Cornelio, showed that some policemen do not have any knowledge on gender sensitivity.
“That in itself tells us that walang kaalaman ang mga pulis na ito tungkol sa gender. Hindi naman ganun kadali yun eh," the sociologist said.
(Some policemen don't know anything about gender issues. It is not as easy as they think.)
"At the end of the day, we are unfair to Christine, we are unfair to the gay men, we are unfair to all of them."
The LGBT community and its allies already aired their frustration over Depositar's remark, criticizing it as both alarming and insensitive.
Despite awareness campaigns against victim blaming, the machismo culture is still evident these days, Ambrosio lamented.
“It’s also a cultural thing... Hindi mangyayari ito kung hindi na you put yourself in that situation, mga ganyan,” said Ambrosio.
Ambrosio appealed to the public for a better sense of judgment and advised against carelessly posting or sharing unverified information on social media.
“Stop forwarding videos. Let’s hold up all judgement. Hindi naman natin alam kung ano nangyari. Tapos social media, kung sino nagha-handle, they should, sila mismo they can censor content kung sa tingin nila,” she said.
(We don’t know what really happened. Social media companies should also censor content if necessary.)
She noted that social media is uncontrollable, including the flow of public opinion there, unlike in courts which are governed by rules.
Proper behavior on social media should be taught in schools, Ambrosio advised.
“DepEd should come into play. Mag-come up ng guidelines how to act, how to talk, how to behave on social media,” she said.
Cornelio echoed Ambrosio, saying people should be cautious in airing their statements and concerns while the investigation is still ongoing.
“Dahil pumasok yung salitang rape, it limits exactly the kinds of public responses. This is the problem we have right now. Paano kung hindi ito rape? Nasira na yung biktima at mga taong nasangkot mga pangalan nila," said Cornelio.
"Ang nangyayari, we are already creating a different reality. Hindi siya fake news, hindi siya disinformation, but it's an interpretation of a different reality.”
(What if this isn't rape? Then we destroyed the image of the victim and the other people involved. What is happening is we are creating a different reality. It is not fake news. It is not disinformation.)