Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa urged on Tuesday the Philippine National Police (PNP) to file charges against the police officers responsible for the alleged mishandling of the case of flight attendant Christine Dacera.
Dela Rosa, former police chief, lectured PNP officials about the “lapses” in their investigation of Dacera’s death during a hearing of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee on the bills seeking to modernize the police institution, including the establishment of a forensic DNA database in the country.
He particularly questioned why the police embalmed the flight attendant’s body before conducting their initial autopsy.
“You can just imagine, bakit naman inenbalm muna bago nagkaroon ng autopsy? So napakalaking tanong, kahit na ‘di ka expert sa investigation, obyus…Pag inembalsamo mo, contaminated na na ‘yong crime scene, ‘yong body of the crime, talagang nilinis na ‘yan (why did you embalm the body before the autopsy? That was the question, even if you are not an expert in investigation, it was obvious. If you embalmed the body, you contaminated the crime scene, the body of the crime was totally cleaned up),” said Dela Rosa, who was PNP’s head from July, 2016, to April, 2018.
“So malaking question kung anong makukuha mong result sa autopsy after embalming, dapat autopsy muna bago embalm (So whatever results you would get from your autopsy would be really questionable, you should have conducted the autopsy first before you embalmed the body).”
“Basic ‘yon, eh (That’s basic). Dapat lang kasuhan niyo ‘yong mga involved doon, at nakakahiya (You should file cases against those involved there, because this was embarassing),” he said.
PNP chief General Debold Sinas earlier this month ordered the relief of Makati police chief Police Colonel Harold Depositar, two other police investigators and a medico legal officer of the Southern Police District pending investigation of their possible lapses in handling Dacera’s case.
The medicolegal officer, Police Major Michael Nick Sarmiento, faces an administrative complaint from Dacera’s family for embalming the body of the flight attendant before the examination and taking forensic samples without their consent.
The initial autopsy cited ruptured aortic aneurysm as the cause of Dacera’s death, but Sinas later declared that the flight attendant was raped and killed — a claim rather believed by her family.
The Makati City Prosecutor’s Office, however, found that there was not enough evidence supporting the rape-slay allegation, thus ordering the release of the three suspects from the police’s custody.
In the hearing, PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management director Major Gen. Marni Marcos explained anew that the PNP implemented a new protocol during the novel coronavirus pandemic wherein probable and suspected COVID-19 cases would be embalmed before the autopsy.
He said the hotel where Dacera stayed and was found lifeless after a New Year’s Eve celebration with her friends was registered as a quarantine facility. Aside from this, Dacera had a history of travel, Marcos noted.
“Ganoon pa man, mali pa rin ang procedure talaga, kahit may procedure kang sinusunod. Ginawang mo lang panangga ‘yon, ginawa mo na lang depensa ‘yong guidelines na ‘yon, but still logic will tell you na mali ang ginawa mo, kahit anong gawin mong depensa doon,” Dela Rosa commented, saying that forensic officers in the PNP undergo “extensive training” abroad and receive “state-of-the-art” equipment from other countries.
(Still, the procedure was wrong, even if you say you were just following it. You were only using it as a defense, those guidelines, but still, logic will tell you that what you did was wrong, whatever your defense was.)
“Ngayon, ganon kasimpleng procedure, eh papalpak tayo? Nakakahiya,” he lamented.
He also told the PNP: “I hope hindi na ito mangyari ulit, ha. Lalong-lalo na yong mga ganyang celebrated case (this doesn’t happen again. Especially in celebrated cases such as Dacera’s case).