Sinas orders relief of Makati police chief, 3 other officers over alleged lapses in Dacera case

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 20 2021 06:03 PM

MANILA - Philippine National Police chief Gen. Debold Sinas has ordered the relief of Makati City's police chief, 2 investigators and a medico legal officer of the Southern Police District (SPD) over supposed lapses in handling the case of flight attendant Christine Dacera's death.

In a press briefing Wednesday, Sinas said sacking Makati police chief Police Col. Harold Depositar was prompted by "command responsibility."

Meanwhile, SPD medico legal chief Police Maj. Michael Nick Sarmiento and 2 other investigators of the Makati PNP were also ordered relieved while internal investigation goes on. 

"[The] following recommendations I have approved: First of course to relieve the chief of police because of command responsibility. Second, the relief and investigation of the 2 investigators. [There will be an] investigation to check if may lapses ang medico legal o ang SOCO (Scene of the Crime Operatives) team ng Southern Police District," Sinas said in the briefing. 

PNP Spokesperson Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana told ABS-CBN News that Sinas approved the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management's recommendation to sack Depositar, Sarmiento, and the 2 other investigators. 

"Hindi pa sa ngayon naimplement. Pero inaprubahan na po ni PNP Chief ang rekomendasyon ng DIDM sa chief of police, SPD medico legal at dalawang imbestigador," Usana said. 

(It has not been implemented yet. But the PNP chief has already approved the recommendation of DIDM over the chief of police, SPD medico-legal, and the two investigators.) 

Sinas earlier noted that he would leave it up to Metro Manila police chief Police Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. whether or not to implement it.

Meanwhile, Danao said he has yet to read the recommendation, but notes the the officials' fate would depend on the results of the preliminary investigation of the Makati Prosecutor's Office.

Danao said heads will roll in the event the charges are dropped against suspects, which he had earlier admitted were lacking.

He says they are still waiting for additional evidence that may shed light on the incident, noting they remain open for persons of interest to give their statements.

Dacera was found unresponsive in the bathtub of a Makati Hotel past noon on January 1, after a night of partying. She was declared dead upon arrival, with initial examination ruling her cause of death as ruptured aortic aneurysm. 

Police, however, said her death was a crime, noting wounds when she was found. Several men who were in the room where she had spent the night were tagged as suspects in the complaint police filed as a rape with homicide case. 

Danao earlier said the police complaint was half-baked. The Makati City Prosecutors Office had released three suspects held for Dacera's death, saying evidence filed so far were "insufficient to establish that she was sexually assaulted or raped."

— Reports from Doland Castro and Raffy Santos, ABS-CBN News

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