The Death of Christine Dacera Raises Questions on ‘Rape-Slay’ Theory

Jan 10, 2021 | ESCAPE, GOV, NEWS, Philippines

Image via @Instagram

The death of Christine Dacera, a 23-year-old flight attendant, has been taking over headlines since the start of the year. To date, millions of anxious social media users have been keeping tabs on her case after she died in a hotel in Makati.

Christine Dacera was the ultimate girl next door. Long jet-black hair, charming smile, svelte figure – and so the whole nation was shocked when news of her passing circulated online. Dacera, whom her friends call Tin, attended a new year’s eve party with at least 12 men in Makati.

Case Background

The 23-year-old flight attendant booked a room in the Garden Hotel in Poblacion, Makati, and checked in with her close friends Gregorio Angelo Rafael de Guzman, John Pascual dela Serna, and Rommel Galido. 

At midnight of January 1, Dacera managed to call her family to let them know she was going to attend a party. 

Sometime in the night, more males joined the celebration, with the party taking place between two rooms. According to reports, the other men were identified as Louie de Lima, Mark Anthony Rosales, Clark Jezreel Rapinan, Jammyr Cunanan, Rey Englis, Valentine Rosales, John Paul Halili, and a certain Ed Madrid. 

Police reports indicated that these people were common friends with Dacera, but her family remains firm in their claim they were strangers.

A now-viral CCTV clip of the hotel showed the flight attendant kissing Valentine Rosales at around 2:52 a.m. before entering a room, and at 3:22 a.m., footage showed Dacera being carried back into the room she rented with her friends. 

In the morning of January 1, Galido found Dacera in the bathtub of their room and thought she was passed out drunk. He even talked to Tin but she simply put one hand down and waved him off. He took this as a signal that she still wanted to sleep so he gave her a blanket and left her in the tub. 

Rapinan, a nurse, also recalled that Dacera wanted to stay in the bathtub because she was still vomiting. He said since she returned to their room, she has been vomiting and they even cleaned the mess up. They even brought her back to the bed but she just went back to the bathroom because she didn’t want to make a mess.  

Upon checking up again on Dacera at noon, Galido was surprised to find her already turning blue. He then rushed to dela Serna and de Guzman to seek help.  

The men tried to revive Dacera through CPR but failed. They also called the hotel to rush her to Makati Medical Center but she was already declared dead on arrival. Galido noted that it took a while for the hotel to bring her to the hospital. The cause of death was an allegedly ruptured aortic aneurysm. As the hospital reported the death to the police, the men in the other hotel room have left.

Viral On Social Media

Dacera’s case captured the attention of people on social media, with #JusticeforChristineDacera trending on Twitter. #ProtectDrunkGirls also made rounds on social media, with people highlighting how Christine trusted the very people who caused her death. 

On her TikTok and Instagram, it was apparent that Christine was very close to the respondents. Being the only woman in the party, PNP immediately claimed that it was a rape-slay case even without enough evidence and testimonial from all suspects, and this is what sparked the discussion on social media. But only after a few days, the narrative caused by PNP’s careless handling of the case caused a stir, with most people now protecting Dacera’s friends, who were later on found to be gay. 

Groups supporting survivors of rape and sexual abuse have also criticized PNP for their reckless statement, which triggered thousands of rape survivors to relive the trauma their experienced. 

“It is the burden of the PNP to prove the facts of the case and be held accountable for prematurely releasing a report that is incomplete and inconclusive. We demand the PNP to be sensitive and give respect to the grieving family as they handle and release further information regarding the case,” said literature and art group KALikha.

Autopsy Report

Medico-legal officer Police Michael Nick Sarmiento led the autopsy performed on Dacera’s body on January 2. According to the report by the Southern Police District Crime Laboratory, which eventually went viral on social media, the cause of death was consistent with ruptured aortic aneurysm. 

The report also mentioned bruises on Dacera’s ankles, thighs, foot, and hand, as well as an abrasion on her thigh. There were also deep lacerations found on her genital area, but it was already partially healed. This signals that she may not have had sexual intercourse on the night of the party. 

According to PNP chief Debold Sinas, Dela Sera, Galido, and Halili were arrested and charged with rape with homicide. However, the three are now out of the police’s custody, with the Makati City Prosecutor’s office citing the need for DNA analysis, histopath examination, and a toxicology report.

Were There Party Drugs Involved?

According to dela Cerna, Dacera kept on visiting the other room and he suspects that someone might have spiked her drink. Dacera even spoke to her saying she feels different and she thinks someone put something in her drink, but he just shrugged it off and told her she might be overthinking. 

The Question

Despite evidence on the Dacera’s cause of death, the PNP still remains firm on their stand that it was a rape-slay case. The office has also labeled the case “solved” despite having a lot of missing pieces in the puzzle, as well as conflicting reports. 

Up until now, Sinas maintains that there was semen found on Dacera’s body despite the vital autopsy proving otherwise. The Dacera family are also prompting the PNP to commission another autopsy due to the “irregular, inaccurate, and misleading” results signed by Sarmiento. 

Many people are also questioning the sincerity of Sharon Dacera, Christine’s mother, who wanted to push for the rape-slay angle. In a viral photo, she was seen hugging PNP chief Sinas, and even immediately stopping her tears after cameras stopped rolling. Netizens are condemning Sinas for taking advantage of the situation to push his agenda instead of achieving justice.

One of the case suspects, De Guzman, has already come forward to social media and TV shows, saying that he denies the absurd speculations that PNP perpetuated, claiming that the men who were with Christine were gay and has never had intercourse with a woman before. In the CCTV footage of Dacera kissing Rosales, it was even clear that Dacera initiated the kiss and Rosales pushed her off. 

On the uncut CCTV footage on his Facebook account, it was clear that he was pressing the doorbell and trying to open the door when Cristine kissed him. He also added that when Dacera gets drunk, she sleeps wherever she is comfortable and that she always kisses her gay friends. 

“She’s very playful. There was a time she kissed each one of us. She’s just having fun whenever she gets drunk and just enjoying our company because she knows nothing bad will happen to her when she’s with us,” said Galido.

In another interview, Galido also said that the reason why he and Cristine left the other room was because there weren’t any good-looking men, and most were older gay men. 

Dacera’s body was flown to General Santos City for a private funeral with her friends and family. The funeral also sparked dismay on social media upon seeing the coffin carried by uniformed reservists. However, Maj. Hen. Ariel Caculitan said that the military officers at the funeral were requested by Dacera’s mother to provide crowd control and security. 

“No military honors were rendered during the burial of Ms. Christine Dacera — no ceremonies, no flag-draped casket, no volleys of fire that constitute interment honors,” said Caculitan, adding that there wasn’t any violation of military policies and regulation.

A Diversion Tactic?

Many people are speculating that the PNP meant for Dacera’s case to get viral to mask the issues happening in the country. Just last December, PNP’s image was put to shambles after a video became viral showing an officer shooting a man and his mother point blanc in the head due to a fight. Netizens think that this is PNP’s last resort to improve their image and trust rating which has been declining since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office. 

Many are also finding parallels of Dacera’s case treatment with the rape and murder case of the Chiong sisters in the 1990s, where Francisco “Paco” Larrañaga was still jailed despite having a clear alibi.    

The results of the second autopsy are set to be reported on the primary investigation of the prosecutor on January 13.