The Alleged 'Rape-Slay' Case of Christine Dacera: Everything We Know
On January 4, news broke of a crime that had occurred three days prior on January 1 as the country celebrated the new year. In the early hours of 2021, 23-year-old flight attendant Christine Dacera was found dead in a bathtub in City Garden Hotel in Poblacion, Makati, after a night of revelry with a group of friends.
The Philippine National Police has named the case a "rape-slay" case, a phrase that is now being contested by the suspects in this case.
Her tragic death and the mysterious events leading up to it have attracted national attention. Here’s everything we know so far:
What Happened on New Year’s Eve?
According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), Dacera celebrated New Year’s Eve with a group of friends in the popular bar area of Poblacion in Makati. At 12:30 a.m. on January 1, Dacera and three friends checked into City Garden Hotel.
Dacera’s mother, Sharon Dacera, said her daughter called her at 12:34 a.m., seeking permission to attend a party with her friends.
“‘Sinong kasama mo, ‘nak?’ ‘Siyempre, ‘yung mga friends ko po rin na flight attendant.’ Sabi ko sino, so ‘yun pinakita niya sa’kin mga flight attendants. So, in short, since I really trust my daughter, sabi ko ‘Basta enjoy ka, enjoy enjoy lang ‘nak,’” recounted Sharon.
The celebration took place in Room 2209 among the close friends. According to the suspects, another party was taking place in the room next door, 2207, and the two groups had one mutual friend who introduced the two groups to each other. They then began to celebrate together. Drugs or prohibited substances are suspected to have been present at the party, however this has not yet been proven. Liquor bottles were found at the scene. Rommel Galido, one of Dacera's friends, said the groups drank only hard liquor that night, namely vodka, whisky, etc.
“May binitawang salita si Christine na tinanong itong kaibigan niya, sabi niya, ‘Parang may nilagay si name doon sa drinks ko kasi nag-iba ‘yung pakiramdam ko,’” said Makati City police chief Col. Harold Depositar.
During the party, Dacera left her friends room to enter the adjacent room, but was brought back to the original room by one of her friends, Valentine Rosales, as per CCTV footage. After that, she found her way back to the other room, but was carried back by another friend, John Paul Dela Serna, to the group's original room, where she stayed for the rest of the night.
According to her friends, now suspects in her death, Dacera was heavily intoxicated that night and was vomiting in their hotel bathroom during the night. Clark Rapinan, one of ther friends and a nurse, claimed that he helped her while she was vomiting and tried to hydrate her with water.
In the early morning, she was later found unconscious in the bathtub by Galido around 10 a.m. He believed her to be sleeping and reportedly covered her with a blanket and went back to bed. However, a few hours later at midday, Galido was shocked to find her still in the bathtub, this time her lips turning blue.
According to his statements, Galido then woke up their group of friends to revive her. After they tried CPR, which did not work, hotel personnel arrived on the scene to put Dacera on a wheelchair that lacked "legs" or a foot rest. According to Rosales, he believes this is what caused the bruises on her legs as they got caught under the wheelchair.
The group of friends and the hotel personnel brought her to a clinic area, and then to Makati Medical Center where she was declared dead upon arrival at around 1:30 p.m.
What was the Cause of Death?
Official reports cite an aortic aneurysm as the cause of death. An aortic aneurysm can be caused by various factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infection, or sudden traumatic injury.
The Makati Police chief says that the cause of death could have been natural, however, there are other factors at play as the victim had lacerations on her thighs, contusions on her knees, and scratches on her body. Lacerations and sperm were also found in her genitalia.
“There was sexual contact, based on medico-legal report,” Depositar said.
The PNP and NCRPO stand by their claims that this is a "rape-slay" case, however this is being contested by the suspects who claim they would never hurt Dacera due to their close friendship and due to their sexuality, as all the men present during the party identify as gay.
The leaked autopsy report of Christine Dacera did not mention bruises on her legs. It cited her death as caused by an aneurysm and that she bore "healed" lacerations in the genital area, implying that the sexual contact was prior to that night, but there was no mention of semen. This contradicts the police's initial statements, which said that there were cuts and semen found in her genital area.
Who are the Suspects?
The Philippine National Police has disclosed the names of those implicated in the death of Christine Dacera: John Pascual Dela Serna III, Rommel Daluro Galido, John Paul Reyes Halili, Gregorio Angelo de Guzman, Louie de Lima, Clark Jezreel Rapinan, Rey Englis, Mark Anthony Rosales, Jammyr Cunanan, Valentine Rosales, a certain Ed Madrid, and a certain Paul. Only some of these men are close friends of Dacera. The rest belong to the party in the adjacent room, all of whom did not know Dacera until that night, so they claim.
All are said to have been present at the hotel party attended by Dacera prior to her death. So far, only three have been arrested: Dela Serna, 27; Galido, 29; and Halili, 25. They are now being charged with the crime of rape with homicide.
They have now all been released upon orders of the Makati Prosecutor's Office due to lack of evidence to support PNP's "rape-slay" case.
“No evidence medically or scientifically was presented to prove that the cause of death or the rupture of the aortic aneurysm was by reason of the alleged rape. Likewise, if the homicide was committed, the person/s responsible is/are yet to be ascertained through further evidence,” the prosecutor's office stated.
The rest of the suspects are still being sought questioning.
Three who are not under police custody have released statements on the matter, pleading their innocence and that no foul play was involved in her death.
See their statements below:
PNP: ‘Case Solved’?
PNP released this news in a social media press release titled “Police Solved New Year Rape-Slay of Flight Attendant.” PNP police general Debold Sinas stated that the case has been “solved” with “the arrest and indictment of three suspects,” who are now facing rape and homicide charges after inquest proceedings at the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office.
The PNP identify a case as “solved” when suspects have been identified. However, this is not the same as being convicted or proven guilty.
The police's claims that the case is a "rape-slay" is now coming into question, urged on by the prosecutor office's statement that the complaint lacks evidence.
Due to the controversy now surrounding the cause, the National Bureau of Investigation has also stepped in to conduct its own independent autopsy on the body to determine cause of death after PNP's "rape-slay" claims came into doubt.
Her Family’s Reaction
The victim’s family, who reside in General Santos, were informed of their daughter’s death 12 hours after she died.
“Ba’t kailangan gawin ‘yun nila sa anak ko? I want to seek justice. Justice for my daughter na sana hindi rin ‘yan mangyari sa anak nila. Ni-rape nila ang anak ko. Sana hindi ‘yan mangyari sa kapatid niya, sa anak niya. Ayaw kong may mabiktima pa sila ulit,” said the victim’s grieving mother.
“Ang gusto lang naman sana ni Christine is magsaya no’ng yearend party na ‘yun. Kung anumang kababuyan ginawa niyo sa anak ko, hindi deserve ni Christine ‘yun… Wag niyo gawing baboy ang anak ko, tao ang anak ko.”
According to the family’s counsel, Atty. Jose Ledda, they suspect there was foul play in her death.
“Hindi inaasahan ng biktima na sa gabing ‘yun, ‘yun ang mga makakasama niya. Let’s just put it that way. She was supposed to be with friends and she was not supposed to be with strangers. She was with friends and suddenly, dumami sila,” the family’s counsel said.
The family's camp believes that Dacera was raped and killed during that night and have requested an independent autopsy to support their claims, bringing the number of autopsies on Dacera's body to three.
Social Media Plays Jury
Christine Dacera’s supposed rape-slay case has gone viral, attracting national attention on news broadcasts and social media. It has reignited debates on rape culture and victim-blaming as some netizens criticized Dacera on social media for the clothes she wore and heavy drinking, while the opposite camp insists that rape is caused by rapists.
Meanwhile, the names of the suspects have been trending on Twitter since last night as social media netizens play jury against all the suspects, none of whom have been convicted in the court of law. This online incident is being criticized as a trial by publicity.
Just as quickly as social media deemed them guilty, the tide turned when more evidence came into light, putting down on the supposed rape-slay case. Friends of the suspects have also stepped forward on social media, claiming that many of the suspects are gay and bisexual.
As a result, the case has also stirred a debate on sexuality and gender identity.
What Really Happened?
According to the Makati police, the suspects have contradicting reports of the events that led up to the victim’s death. The police's statements in turn contradict with the suspect's claims.
The deceased's family and the suspects' camps now have legal counsels and lawyers to assist them should this case go to court, where it will either be dismissed or the suspects will be convicted.
Until then, the statements are the only thing to go by until a judge rules on the matter.
Who is Christine Dacera?
Dead at 23 years old, Dacera was a flight attendant at Philippine Airlines prior to her death. Her last Instagram post was of her aboard a flight wearing PPE gear. She began working at PAL in May 2019, after a stint in beauty pageants and marketing.
A native of General Santos City, Dacera attended the University of the Philippines Mindanao from 2013 to 2017, graduating cum laude with a degree in communication and media studies.
She leaves behind family, friends, and a community, all of whom mourn her death.
To her loved ones, she was known as "Tin" and "Ica."
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This is a developing story and has been updated to reflect the latest statements and updates.