The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) announced Friday that a special investigation task group (SITG) was created to conduct a deeper investigation on the death of flight attendant Christine Angelica Dacera on New Year's Day.
As different versions of the story came out, Brigadier General Vicente Danao Jr., NCRPO chief, said the SITG was formed after the Makati City Prosecutor's Office referred for further investigation the rape-homicide charge that was earlier filed by the Makati City Police against the 11 suspects.
"The reason for the creation of the SITG at the regional level is because the case was referred for further investigation by the fiscal of the Makati City. This SITG is composed of the CIDG , SOCO , and other units that can help us. Hopefully, we will be able to get additional evidence that would be very vital in the resolution of this case," Danao told reporters.
According to Danao, among the things that the SITG will investigate is if Dacera was drugged which may have caused her aneurysm.
Danao said this was the claim made by one of Dacera's friends who the police had talked to. Based on an autopsy report, Dacera died of "ruptured aortic aneurysm" or the tearing of the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body which passes through the heart.
"Ang initial na sinabi (According to initial reports), because of aneurysm. What could have caused that aneurysm? Was it induced dahil sa sobrang inom (because of too much intoxication)? Or was it because may nainom siyang drugs (she was drugged) unknowingly?" Danao said.
"Sa initial statement na ipinalabas ng mga kaibigan ni Tin, mayroon nga daw naglagay na Mark na parang gustong magtake ng drugs. 'Yun ang sabi nila pero regarding sa kung talagang nilagyan 'yung inumin, that is yet to be proven (According to the initial statement issued by Tin's friends, there was a certain Mark who wanted to take drugs. That's what they say but whether the drinks were laced, that is yet to be proven)," he added.
If the possibility of Dacera being drugged will be proven, Danao explained that there are two situations that likely happened: either she intentionally drank the drug-laced drink, or she was unknowingly drugged.
"Ang mahirap dito, if someone would testify na ininom niya ito voluntarily, that would be another case. Who is to be blamed kung ikaw uminom voluntarily? (What’s difficult here is that if someone would testify she drank it voluntarily, that would be another case. Why? Who is to be blamed if she drank it voluntarily?)," he said.
“But if she was drugged unknowingly, that is the problem. That is another case. Here is where the case of homicide happens. If someone put a drug , probably there was no intention to kill but she died. Hopefully, we can unearth what really happened through the results of the different tests that we are waiting for," he said in Filipino.
Right now, Danao said he already ordered the Makati police to submit the results of the toxicology or chemical analysis, DNA analysis on the substances found in her body, and the histopathology performed on her remains.
But Danao bared that Dacera's body was already embalmed before it was autopsied by the police, a scenario which may have already tainted the most vital piece of evidence in the case.
“The medico-legal admitted that they embalmed the body first before they autopsied it. My take is that they did it because of the new COVID-19 protocol, there are new guidelines," he said in Filipino.
He, however, pointed out that the new guidelines should only be observed if the person died of COVID-19.
“It was inlcuded in the guidelines of SOCO that in times of pandemic, that's what we will do. But as far as I know, it is only for a patient who died of COVID-19," he said in Filipino.
"Be that as it may, I would rather have 'yung normal time pa rin na dapat autopsy muna para sa akin kasi mas napreserve yung evidence at hand (that the normal time should be followed where the autpopsy was first done to preserve the evidence at hand)," he added.
Found in the bathtub
Dacera was found unconscious in the bathtub of Room 2209 at the City Garden Hotel in Makati City on January 1. She was brought to the hospital by three of her friends who were later tagged as suspects and jailed by the police.
The police filed provisional charges of rape with homicide against the suspects identified as John Pascual Dela Serna, Rommel Galido, and John Paul Halili and eight others but the Makati Prosecutor's Office decided that the case lacks evidence. The suspects were eventually freed.
Another angle that will be investigated by the SITG is the identities of the occupants of the adjacent room, Room 2207, where Dacera entered and stayed as seen in a retrieved closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the hotel.
"'Yung mga nasa Room 2207, nakikiusap kami sa inyo. According sa video, nagstay si Tintin dyan ng mas matagal na oras. Please come out in the open or else.... Basta come out in the open (Those who were in the Room 2207, we appeal to you . According to a video, Tintin stayed there for a long time. Please come out in the open or else... Come out in the open)," Danao said.
He said he will request the CIDG to issue subpoenas against the occupants of the Rooms 2207 and 2209 to get their affidavits.
Meanwhile, Danao denied the reports circulating in social media that Makati City police chief, Colonel Harold Depositar, tendered a leave of absence due to criticisms being hurled against the city police for the handling of the case.
“He has not tendered anything. He did everything in the best way that he can. It just so happened that because of the eagerness of the police to file a case, that’s what happened)," he said in Filipino.