MANILA - Two men implicated in the death of flight attendant Christine Dacera have recanted their statements that drugs were involved in the incident, alleging they were made to say it under duress.
Interviewed on ANC, lawyer Abby Portugal said her clients John Pascual Dela Serna II and Rommel Galido were threatened by police to pin the incident on someone or else they would rot in jail.
"They made the statements, they were interviewed without [the] presence of a counsel. And they were made promises, misrepresentation that if they would not point out to someone in relation to a drug case, then they will rot in jail. Because rape with homicide is non-bailable," she said.
In his affidavit, Dela Serna said his friend Mark Anthony Rosales showed him powdered drugs concealed in the latter's socks. But during preliminary investigation on Wednesday, he said in his counter affidavit that statement was made under duress.
Dela Serna also claimed the affidavit was already prepared and they were forced to sign it.
"Sa statement ko, I retracted it (I retracted my statement) because they're the ones who put words into my mouth na magturo ng tao sa nangyari (to blame it on someone)," he said in an interview with reporters.
On Galido's part, he said he was confused and tired while in police custody, and made that statement for things to be settled.
"Sabi ng pulis kailangan talaga ako magturo para sa kalayaan ko. Wala akong choice," he said.
(The police told me to drop names in exchange for freedom. I had no choice.)
Dela Serna and Galido were earlier detained by police but were ordered released by the Makati City Prosecutor's Office due to insufficiency of evidence.
Makati City police chief Police Col. Harold Depositar earlier denied the allegations.
"There was no pressure, no torture. They were treated well. I even looked for a separate detention cell for the 3. They were not with ordinary detainees. I respected them and they know that," he said in a text message.
During the interview, Portugal said it would be up to the police to prove that drugs may have been involved in Dacera's death.
"They do not think and we also do not think there was drug overdose. They didn't see anything in relation to drugs," Portugal said.
The lawyer also claimed her clients were not read Miranda rights by police, which she said is "very basic in [the] conduct of custodial investigation."
Under the Constitution, police arrests in the country requires the reading of the Miranda doctrine to suspects as it provides them awareness of rights, such as to remain silent and to get a lawyer.
Portugal, who also represents Clark Rapinan, Valentine Rosales and Gregorio Angelo De Guzman in the alleged rape-killing of Dacera, also denied there was cover-up in the case.
"My clients vehemently deny any cover-up. They stand by their position that they are not, they did not commit these things, these crimes," she said.
The lawyer and spokesman of Dacera family had alleged there was a cover-up during the investigation.
"Sa aming pagtingin, may participation ang investigation process sa cover-up," lawyer Brick Reyes told reporters.
(We believe that the investigation process had something to do with the cover-up.)
For the truth to come out, Portugal said her clients would remain cooperative.
"The truth will come out. There was no drugs, whatsoever," she said.
She added, "As much as possible, my clients wouldn't like to tarnish the name of Christine. Christine is their friend. They love her. They didn’t do anything to harm her. In fact, you would see in the CCTV [footage] that they were protecting her."
Dacera, 23, was found unresponsive in the bathtub of a room at a Makati City hotel after a New Year party. She was rushed to a hospital but was declared dead on arrival. Her cause of death was ruptured aortic aneurysm, but police said she may have been raped and killed, citing wounds on her body.