MANILA — As questions mount on the way the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been investigating the death of flight attendant Christine Dacera, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday confirmed the National Bureau of Investigation will conduct a second autopsy on her body.
“I was so informed by the OIC chief,” Guevarra told reporters in a message exchange, referring to NBI Officer-in-Charge Eric Distor.
Earlier on Wednesday, Guevarra said he would discuss the Dacera incident with the NBI, which eventually led to the agency offering its assistance to the PNP. The NBI is an attached agency of the Department of Justice.
“The NBI forensic medicine team is presently providing assistance to and coordinating with the PNP Makati SOCO (Scene of the Crime Operatives) to determine the true cause of death of Christine Dacera,” he said.
But he clarified that his directive to the NBI is “to assist the PNP in the investigation, particularly on the medico-legal aspect of the case, rather than to conduct a separate probe.”
Dacera was found unconscious and without pulse in a bathtub in a Makati hotel 12:30 pm on January 1 after a night of partying with 12 men.
Her friends tried to revive her and brought her to the Makati Medical Center but the 23-year-old was declared dead on arrival.
An initial medico-legal report dated January 3 prepared by medico-legal officer Police Maj. Michael Nick Sarmiento concluded that the cause of death was “consistent with ruptured aortic aneurysm.”
The autopsy was conducted at 9 a.m. on January 2, the day after Dacera was found dead.
By January 4, police said Dacera’s case was one of rape and murder, with Makati Police filing a rape-homicide complaint with the Makati prosecutors’ office, which it described as “provisional” pending additional evidence.
Makati Police Chief Police Col. Harold Depositar told the Philippine Daily Inquirer the victim had “lacerations and sperm in her genitalia.”
The PNP also came out with a press release claiming the case was already solved with 3 of the alleged suspects already in police custody, with 9 others at large. They named the suspects.
On January 5, copies of the January 3 medico-legal report surfaced online seemingly indicating contradictory findings, but police have yet to officially make a public release of such report.
One of the persons police identified as a suspect, Gregorio de Guzman, also faced the media to refute allegations of rape and murder, saying all of them present during the party were members of the LGBT community who would never harm Dacera.
He also stressed, they never left her and in fact brought her to the hospital. De Guzman said he also went to the police station himself and was allowed to leave after his lawyer sought permission from police.
SINAS STANDS BY ‘RAPE-SLAY’ CLAIM
Despite questions surrounding police’s claim that Dacera was raped and murdered, PNP Chief Debold Sinas stood by their earlier pronouncements Wednesday.
“I think there’s really rape. Look, ‘yung babae may bruises siya, may confirmed lacerations, may fluid sa private part niya… It is [rape]. We have evidence that we could not reveal now,” he insisted in a press conference with Dacera’s mother.
He earlier gave the suspects 72 hours to surrender despite the lack of an arrest warrant against them.