12 more men probed over Dacera death

Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Twelve more respondents being investigated for the death of flight attendant Christine Dacera appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation to clear their names, an NBI official said yesterday.

The 12 men were said to be billeted at Room 2207 of the City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati, which Dacera also visited during a New Year’s Eve party, according to NBI spokesman Ferdinand Lavin.

Lavin said the respondents identified themselves as gay. Their statements were taken yesterday by investigators after they were issued summons by the NBI.

Based on CCTV footage, Dacera went in and out of Room 2207 during a night of drinking to welcome the New Year.

“This is part of the whole investigation. That’s what they said (that) they are gays,” Lavin said of the persons of interest.

The family of Dacera believes that there is a cover-up in the case as they maintained that the 23-year-old flight attendant was a victim of rape.

2 respondents retract

The respondents who were friends of Dacera said their statements were made under duress as they accused the Makati police of subjecting them to mental torture during detention.

John Pascual dela Serna III retracted his earlier affidavit that a fellow respondent, hairstylist Mark Anthony Rosales, allegedly brought powdered drugs during the party.

Dela Serna claimed the police forced him to make the statement.

Rommel Galido also recanted his previous statement that Dacera confided to him that Rosales allegedly put something in her drink that drugged her.

Galido said he was forced to lie in exchange for his release from detention.

“Sinabi ko si Mark pero hindi naman dapat kasi wala namang sinabi si Christine about Mark, pero sabi ng pulis kailangan magturo para sa kalayaan ko,” he said at a press briefing. “Gulong gulo ang isip ko, any options na i-grab ko para lang matapos na ito kasi pagod na ang katawan ko.”

Mike Santiago, lawyer for Galido and Dela Serna, maintained that his clients were “pressured, intimidated and manipulated.”

Perjury raps

The respondents in the case could be charged with perjury for retracting their statements regarding Dacera’s death, National Capital Region Police Office acting director Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao said yesterday.

“Well, nasa kanila ‘yun. Puwede silang file-an ng perjury kasi under oath ‘yun na sinabi nila,” Danao said.

Makati police chief Col. Harold Depositar has yet to respond to the accusations of the respondents.

But Danao came to his defense.

“As far as the Makati police are concerned, there is no such thing as bugbugan, coercion or anything about drugs that they were coerced to say,” Danao told reporters.

Police asked the city prosecutor’s office to include eight more men in complaint for rape with homicide.

“We have filed for the amendment from 11 to 19 persons of interest na puwedeng maging respondents in the case,” Danao said.

The NBI has yet to issue the results of the second autopsy on Dacera. The bureau has extracted urine samples from her body to determine whether or not illegal drugs were used that resulted in her death from ruptured aortic aneurysm.

Hotel suspended, fined

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has suspended the accreditation of City Garden Grand Hotel for six months for misrepresenting itself to the public as a staycation hotel despite being a quarantine facility.

In a resolution issued yesterday, the DOT said the hotel is liable for gross negligence under Memorandum Circular 2018-03.

The DOT ordered the hotel to pay P10,000 fine.

“Upon investigation, the hotel was found to have misrepresented itself to the public as being allowed to accommodate guests for leisure despite being a quarantine facility,” the DOT said.

Under DOT Administrative Order 2020-002-C, hotels operating as quarantine facilities are prohibited from accepting guests for leisure purposes.

Dacera was found unconscious in the bathroom of the hotel on Jan. 1 after partying with her friends.

She was pronounced dead on arrival at the Makati Medical Center. – Ghio Ong, Catherine Talavera

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