The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) has justified the presence of military reservists at the burial of Christine Angelica Dacera, the flight attendant who died during a New Year’s Eve party in a posh Makati City hotel.
Dacera, 23, was laid to rest at the Forest Lake Memorial Park in her hometown, General Santos City on Sunday.
Some photos circulating on social media showed Dacera’s casket being carried by uniformed personnel, with netizens pointing out that it was as if the flight attendant was given a hero’s burial.
Major General Ariel Caculitan, Marine Commandant, admitted that some military reservists were deployed to Dacera’s interment but only to provide security and manage the crowd especially since the country remains under a community quarantine due to the threat of COVID-19.
“Our Marine reservists were asked to help in the crowd control especially that COVID-19 pandemic remains a major health problem,” Caculitan said.
He noted that it was Dacera’s mother, Sharon, who requested the PMC to provide military assistance at her daughter’s funeral. The request was granted by the 12th Regional Community Defense Group (12th RCDG), which deployed the reservists.
In her social media accounts, Sharon identifies herself as a Marine reservist but this is yet to be confirmed by the PMC.
Nonetheless, Caculitan said the deployment of reservists at Dacera’s funeral did not mean that they rendered her a hero’s burial.
“The actual honors and taps bugle honor was not rendered, and the flag was not given as usually given to our reservists. No gun salute. 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,” he explained.
“Wala din naman bawal kung nag-assist sila magbuhat kung makakatulong (They were not also prohibited to assist in carrying the casket if only to help [the family]). There was no military regulation or policy [that was] violated,” he added.
Meanwhile, Caculitan expressed condolences to the family of Dacera even as he called for the swift resolution of the case.
“I assure you that we are one with our investigating agencies in finding out the truth behind her death,” he said.
Dacera was found unconscious in the bathtub of Room 2209 at the City Grand Hotel in Makati City on January 1 after a New Year’s Eve party with her friends. She was brought to Makati Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival by the doctors.
The case remains unsolved even as the Makati police filed a provisional case for rape with homicide against 11 suspects, including three of Dacera’s friends who were initially jailed.
The case was later returned for further investigation (RFI) by the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office due to lack of evidence, and the suspects were freed while they claimed innocence on Dacera’s death.
An autopsy report released by the police showed that Dacera died of ruptured aortic aneurysm, which meant that a portion of her aorta, the largest blood vessel which runs through a person’s heart, was torn.
What caused Dacera’s aneurysm has yet to be determined.
The Department of Justice has already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to step in and conduct a deeper probe while the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) created a special investigation task group to elevate the case at the regional police level.