CHR rejects death penalty push amid flight attendant's controversial death

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 06 2021 06:41 PM | Updated as of Jan 07 2021 02:57 AM

MANILA – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) insisted Wednesday that reviving the death penalty "would not genuinely address" rape and other cases of sexual violence, amid calls for its reimposition after the controversial death of flight attendant Christine Dacera. 

In the afternoon of January 1, Dacera was found unconscious in a bathtub inside a Makati City hotel she and her friends rented for a New Year party. After failed attempts to resuscitate her, she was brought to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead-on-arrival.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the camp of Dacera claimed the victim was sexually abused and slain, but the accusations are being disputed by her companions, with some self-identifying as gays. 

Sen. Manny Pacquiao, for long pushing for the revival of capital punishment, earlier said Dacera's case was another example of why the death penalty should be reinstated in the Philippines.

"Ayoko sa lahat papatayin na, gagahasain pa kaya isinusulong ko ang death penalty," he said.

(What I don't like most of all is rape with murder so I am pushing for the death penalty.)

"Kailangan may pamalong matindi ang ating gobyerno," the legislator added.

(The government needs a strong whip.)

But the CHR said the death penalty would not solve the root causes of such sexual violence. 

"[T]he Commission refutes the call to reimpose death penalty if proven that Christine’s death resulted from sexual assault. While perpetrators of rape and other forms of sexual violence must be held accountable, capital punishment would not genuinely address the problem," CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement.

"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," De Guia added.

The CHR likewise reprimanded the PNP after it supposedly threatened the respondents to the rape-homicide complaints filed by Dacera's camp. 

"[T]he CHR cautions officials to be circumspect in their pronouncements of launching a manhunt operation against suspects without any legal basis such as warrant of arrest," De Guia said. 

The CHR on Wednesday afternoon dispatched a 4-member team to the Makati City Police Station to conduct a parallel probe on Dacera's case.

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