MANILA (UPDATE)— The Makati City Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday referred for further investigation the case of the flight attendant found dead in a Makati hotel, as it ordered the release of the 3 detained suspects pending preliminary investigation.
The 3 are among 11 tagged in Christine Dacera's death on January 1, following a New Year party. The prosecutor's decision came amid the Philippine National Police’s earlier announcement that the case was considered solved following their “policy.”
The Prosecutor’s Office said some matters surrounding the 23-year-old’s death need more clarification. Police hold that the case was one of rape with homicide, while the initial autopsy report found that her death was due to ruptured aortic aneurism.
The preliminary investigation, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said, needs to be conducted to determine whether Dacera was raped or killed and the actual reason of her death.
"After a thorough examination of the evidence presented on inquest, this Office finds that there are certain matters that need to be clarified to determine the participation and culpability of each respondent for the alleged rape and killing of Christine Angelica Dacera y Faba," the resolution read.
It said "the pieces of evidence so far submitted are insufficient to establish that she was sexually assaulted or raped."
"And, if sexual assault/rape was committed, who is/are the person/s responsible?"
The suspects who were released Wednesday night were the following:
- John Pascual Dela Serna II
- Rommel Galido
- John Paul Halili
The three left detention at 7:05 p.m.
Halili, speaking to media after release, broke down in tears and said the public should wait for the results of the investigation. The suspects had been pilloried on social media.
Galido, meanwhile, said he was happy being out of detention but regretted the death of her friend, who he considered a sister.
"Sobrang sakit din po na mawala si Christine pero sana po malinawan ang pamilya ni Christine," he said.
(Christine's death is painful but I hope the family gets clarity.)
Dela Serna said they had nothing to do with Dacera's death, and that her passing was hard to accept, especially because they already considered her as family.
"Mahirap tanggapin na wala siya," he said.
Watch more in iWantTFC Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News
In the 3-page resolution, the investigating prosecutor also directed police officers to submit additional evidence, such as the DNA analysis report, toxicology/chemical analysis, and the histopath examination report.
The hearing for the preliminary investigation of the case was set on Jan. 13, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
Dacera camp insists: flight attendant drugged, raped
In an interview on Teleradyo, the family's legal counsel, Roger Reyes, said the Office's decision is just a shift to the regular procedure for preliminary investigation.
He said police were late in filing supplemental affidavits. The Dacera camp also insisted they believe that Dacera was raped and drugged.
The family’s camp on Tuesday said in a press conference there are still many “loose ends” in Christine’s death.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed the National Bureau of Investigation would conduct a second autopsy on her body.
Dacera was found unconscious and without pulse on a bathtub in a hotel in Makati at 12:30 p.m. on January 1 after a night of partying.
Her friends tried to revive her and brought her to the Makati Medical Center but the 23-year-old was declared dead on arrival.
— report from Mike Navallo and Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News