KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 7 January) – The remains of Christine Angelica Dacera, the 23-year-old flight attendant and allegedly a victim of gang rape who was found dead in a Makati City hotel, arrived at the General Santos City airport shortly before 10 a.m. Thursday amid a tight security provided by the police.
Her remains were contained in a sealed wooden box and immediately whisked to a waiting van and brought to the St. Peter Chapels in GenSan, where family members and close friends clad in white shirts were waiting.
Dacera, the second of four siblings, was found unconscious at the bathtub of a hotel room in Makati City around noon of January 1, after partying with friends on New Year’s Eve. She was rushed to a hospital where physicians pronounced her dead.
The police tagged 11 males, with some admitting they’re gays, as suspects in the death of Dacera, who graduated cum laude with a communications degree at the University of the Philippines – Mindanao in Davao City.
The Southern Police District Crime Laboratory Office said that Dacera “died of a natural cause, specifically ruptured aortic aneurysm,” which her family disputed.
At the airport, the media covering the arrival were barred from getting close to Dacera’s family members who accompanied her aboard Philippine Airlines, where she worked until her death.
The van carrying Dacera’s remains left the airport about 25 minutes after the commercial plane arrived, escorted by the Philippine National Police’s elite Special Weapons and Tactics team and another police patrol car.
Lawyer Rene Jumilla, a close friend of the Dacera family, appealed to the public to refrain from victim-blaming Dacera, who was seen in a viral video initiating a torrid kiss with one of the suspects.
“Christine is a victim here. Please stop blaming her for what happened. We don’t believe she died of natural death,” Jumilla, city government administrator of Koronadal, said in a radio interview.
Jumilla also urged the suspects who are still at large to yield to authorities and reveal what they know.
“If you are innocent, show up and go to the police and tell the truth. By doing this, you’re protecting yourself,” Jumilla said.
On Wednesday evening, the Makati police released three suspects in custody after state prosecutors ordered them freed, as the evidence was considered “insufficient.”
The Makati City Prosecutor’s Office opted to conduct a regular preliminary investigation of the case on January 13 to determine the culpability of the suspects. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)