CHR hits victim-blaming, gender stereotypes amid Dacera investigation
Photo lifted from Christine Dacera's Instagram account.

CHR hits victim-blaming, gender stereotypes amid Dacera investigation

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - January 12, 2021 - 2:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights expressed concern Tuesday over what it said was the victim-blaming and gender stereotyping amid the investigations in the killing of flight attendant Christine Dacera, which it said only further disrespects the victim and cause further anguish to the bereaved family.

To recall, Dacera was found unconscious in a hotel bathtub the morning after a New Year's Eve party and was rushed to a hospital, where she passed away. Weeks after the tragic incident, the circumstances of Dacera's death are still largely unclear, and the National Bureau of Investigation has since launched its own probe into the alleged rape-slay. 

In a statement, the CHR reminded the public to refrain from spreading harmful narratives that pin the responsibility of her death on the victim herself, saying these "ultimately deny women protection from violence."

"Instead of responding to the act of violence in this case, as well as addressing the root causes of the human rights violation, victim-blaming is a violation of a woman’s dignity and shifts the focus of the investigation on what the victim wore, the company she kept, and the places she went to. It trivializes the violence and demonizes the woman, as the blame cast on her creates the perception that 'she had it coming,' making her unworthy of protection and remedies," the statement read. 

The Commission on Human Rights, which serves as the country's gender and development ombud, also slammed "rampant gender stereotyping against the alleged perpetrators" who were with Dacera that night, particularly those mentioned by no less than police investigators.

"Some of the alleged perpetrators came out explaining their side, including revealing their sexual orientation. This has led to comments [...] intimating that men, regardless of sexual orientation, would prey on women once drunk," the statement read. 

'Lalaki pa rin sila'

The commission pointed to the pronouncements of Police Col. Harold Depositar, Makati City’s chief of police. Confronted with the claim that the suspects were all gay men, he said: "Lalaki pa rin sila. May instinct yan, lalo na if you're under the influence of intoxicating alcohol. Tapos, kung may presence pa of drugs yan, eh di lalo na."

(They're still men. They have instincts, especially if you're under the influence of intoxicating alcohol. Then if there's the presence of drugs too, then more so.) 

Police Gen. Debold Sinas, the chief of the national police, also issued a warrantless ultimatum to the remaining suspects: turn yourself in, or we will hunt you down. “This is a fair warning. Surrender within 72 hours or we will hunt you down using force if necessary,” he said then in a press release. “We know who you are. Your family must turn you over to the police. Those found to be abetting your escape will also be arrested.”

"This normalizes predatory sexual behavior of men, dismisses diversity of sexual orientation, and digresses from the task of properly inquiring into a case of gender-based violence. Statements like this, especially if they come from State authorities, show utter lack of sensitivity and understanding on issues pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity," CHR said in its statement. 

"While it is true that the crime of rape can be committed regardless of the sexual orientation of the perpetrator, in this particular case, the premature announcement of rape and murder is simply irresponsible and reckless."

'Investigation should have been thorough before issuing media statements'

After initially tagging the case as "solved," the Philippine National Police has since admitted to lapses in the investigation into the death, saying that an autopsy was not conducted before Dacera’s body was embalmed. 

Police Gen. Debold Sinas, PNP chief, had asserted in a press briefing that he still believes the death was a rape-slay, citing evidence he claimed the PNP could not yet share.

Both the national police and the Dacera family continue to assert that there was foul play involved, though the three main suspects who were with Dacera that night have since been ordered released by the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office due to lack of evidence for the rape and homicide complaints, which the three have staunchly denied. 

"A thorough investigation of the case before coming out on media would have prevented all of these. If rape was indeed committed, then the same must be addressed and justice must be served. However, later reports of the police tend to cast doubts about the commission of rape. If the initial report did not jump into a hasty conclusion that it was a “rape-slay case,” the otherwise private lives of the victim and the alleged perpetrators would not have been thrust to the limelight," CHR said. 

"There would have been no need to talk about Christine’s actuations. There would have been no need for the alleged perpetrators to disclose their sexual orientation in desperation to defend themselves. Justice is achieved by bringing the true perpetrators to account, and not by pinning down persons of interest who may later on turn out to be innocent for the sake of having someone to blame."

'Don't blame a girl for being abused'


At a press conference held the day after news of the death broke, the Dacera itself also slammed narratives online that Dacera herself was responsible for the incident. 

"Don't ever blame a girl for waking up naked and being abused. Don't ever blame a girl for her own death," the family's lawyers said. 

"If those [claims that it was consensual] were all true, then why is Christine not here today to answer that?" they added. 

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 12, 2021 - 12:54pm

Follow this page for updates on the case of flight attendant Christine Dacera. Main image from Instagram/xtinedacera

March 12, 2021 - 12:54pm

The National Bureau of Investigation recommends the filing charges against 11 individuals in the death of Christine Dacera. These include the occupants of the hotel room, their counsel and the medico-legal of the Southern Police District.

January 27, 2021 - 2:51pm

Police rules out homicide as the cause of death of 23-year-old flight attendant Christine Dacera.

PNP medico-legal report found that Dacera died of aortic aneurysm, which is considered a medical condition.

"Rape and/or drug overdose will not result to the development of aneurysms," the report read.

January 20, 2021 - 3:36pm

PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas orders the relief of the Makati police chief in relation to the case of flight attendant Christine Dacera.

According to a report from radio dzBB, the police chief also orders the dismissal of the medico legal of the Southern Police District, as well as two Makati police investigators.

January 14, 2021 - 4:49pm

The Department of Tourism revokes the certificate of authority to operate of City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati, which was found liable for gross and evident bad faith in dealing with clients/fraudulent solicitation of business.

The agency says the Makati hotel was found to have misrepresented itself to the public as being allowed to accommodate guests for leisure despite being a quarantine facility.

"The pieces of evidence showed that even prior to the incident and until now, the CGGH is marketing packages to accept leisure guests and never indicated that it is a quarantine hotel," DOT says.

January 12, 2021 - 4:03pm

The National Bureau of Investigation has extracted 100 ml of urine from the remains of flight attendant Christine Dacera, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Guevarra says this could provide a lot of information to the bureau's forensic team. — report from The STAR/Evelyn Macairan

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