DOJ: We now have jurisdiction over Dacera rape-slay case

The Philippine National Police (PNP) can no longer place under arrest the suspects in the alleged rape-slay case of flight attendant Christine Dacera, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday.

“Kami na ang may jurisdiction at this point in time (We now have jurisdiction over the case),” said Prosecutor General Bendicto Malcontento during an interview over CNN Philippines.

The chief of the DOJ National Prosecution Service (NPS) pointed this out after Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police Gen. Debold Sinas gave an ultimatum to the still at large suspects to surrender lest they become the subject of a manhunt.

Malcontento explained the PNP has already filed a complaint against the suspects before the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office which issued a resolution Wednesday that ordered the release three of the 11 suspects released and have the conduct of a preliminary investigation due to insufficient evidence.

“Taking into account na nag-issue na kami ng order for investigation, ‘yung venue ng kaso nasa prosecutor na ‘yan, wala na sa police (Taking into account that we have issued an order for the conduct of a preliminary investigation, the venue is with the prosecutor and not with the police),” said Malcontento.

“’Yung order na masusunod ‘yung amin. Wala nang ibang masusunod at this point in time (What will be followed is our order. No other orders will be followed at this point in time),” he stressed.

The Makati City Prosecutor’s Office has set the start of the preliminary investigation on Jan. 13.

Contrary to the declarations of the PNP that the alleged rape-slay case of Dacera has been solved, the Prosecutor General said the resolution of the case has yet to start.

“In so far as prosecutors are concerned, nag-uumpisa lang kami sa Jan. 13. We are just starting,” he declared.

Despite this, Malcontento assured the family of Dacera that the conduct of the preliminary investigation will be made expeditiously.

“Justice will be delivered,” the Prosecutor General said.

“For the respondents, we will give them rights under the law, give them chance to tell their stories regarding this matter,” he added.

Malcontento explained the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office decided to have a preliminary investigation of the complaint since “the pieces of evidence are not sufficient for us to file any charges.”

Dacera was found dead in the bath tub of her hotel room in Makati City on Jan. 1 following a new year’s celebration with a group of men.

The Makati City Police filed a rape with homicide complaint against 11 suspects before the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office where three of the arrested suspects were presented for inquest.

Citing the medico-legal autopsy report submitted by the police with the complaint, Malcontento said that it did not indicate that there was semen and fresh lacerations found in Dacera’s private part.

“Based on the medico legal, there’s no such thing na nagsasabi na may semen sa private part na deceased (There’s no such thing thing that said that semen was found in the private part of the deceased),” Malcontento said.

“’Yung sinasabing laceration, hindi yan magpo-prove ng sexual assault. In layman’s term, ang healed laceration, matagal na ‘yang nangyari (The said laceration won’t prove sexual assault. In layman’s term, the healed laceration means it was made a long time ago),” he added.

Though the police claims that there were contusions and bruises on the body, Malcontento said this is based only on the testimony only of Dacera’s cousin.

The Makati City Prosecutor’s Office said in its resolution that the autopsy report showed that cause of death has been “ruptured aortic aneurysm.”

“It will not lead into a conclusion kung sino ang may gawa at kung talagang may foul play (as to who did it and if there was foul play),” the Prosecutor General stressed.

In its resolution, the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office has directed the PNP to submit during the preliminary investigation DNA analysis, toxicology or chemical analysis, and histopath examination of the remains.

“There must be a scientific, medical basis na dapat ma-submit ng PNP para mapaniwalaan namin yung allegation. As of now, wala pang ganung medical findings which is why our decision was to convert this to a regular preliminary investigation (There must be a scientific and medical basis that the PNP must submit for us to believe the allegations. As of now, there are no such medical findings which is why our decision was to convert this to a regular preliminary investigation),” the Prosecutor General stated.