Updated: Sep 21, 2021
On December 31, 2020, Christine Dacera, a Philippine Airlines flight attendant attended a party at the City Garden Hotel in Makati City. She and her friends partied all the way into the next day when Christine decided to call her family a little past midnight and told them how she was doing. She had partied for so long that her friend, JP Dela Serna, was seen carrying her back to the hotel room by the CCTV cameras at 4:13 in the morn
ing of January 1. She had been vomiting earlier that morning, so her friends decided it would be best for her to take a break.
Christine stayed inside the hotel room along with around ten other male friends. While her friends suggested she lay down, Christine decided to stay in the bathroom near the toilet where she could throw up. Sometime between 10AM and noon, something must have occurred because her body was found blue and unconscious in the hotel room bathtub. Her friends, namely Rommel Galido, JP Dela Serna, Clark Rapinan, and Valentine Rosales, rushed to call hotel management after Christine didn’t respond to CPR. Eventually, they drove to the Makati Medical Center where she was considered dead on arrival at the age of 23.
On January 4, the PNP posted a different statement calling Christine’s case was a rape-slay. They also announced that they had spotted the three men who they suspected committed this crime, JP Dela Serna, John Paul Halili, and Rommel Galido, all people who were at the hotel room with Christine. This revelation made hashtags such as #JusticeForChristineDacera and #ProtectDrunkGirls trend everywhere online, with many posts giving lectures on rape culture overall. What they had not seen was the medico-legal report which had yet to be released to the public. The three suspects were detained for five days.
The next day, however, Makati Police Chief Col. Harold Depositar announced the autopsy that was performed on Christine’s embalmed body. The medico-legal report by the Southern Police District Crime Laboratory Office said she had died of natural causes. This followed the initial consensus that she had died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm. However, she did have bruises on her right hand, thigh, and foot, knees, and ankles, as well injuries around her genitals.
The story only gets more confusing from here on out. Christine’s family wanted to do a second autopsy in order to find out the real cause of Christine’s death because it still wasn’t clear at this point with all this contradicting information. Harold Depositar said in a later statement that there was actually semen inside Christine pointing to a crime being committed. However, another confusing puzzle piece was that the alleged perpetrators identified as gay and said they were friends with her. On top of that, these men were able to confidently face the press and deny all the allegations against them. They explained their side of the story, and elaborated bit by bit the events that occurred-- and it seemed as though their stories were consistent.
Considering all that happened, what was really going on with the Christine Dacera case? On January 8, the NCR Police Office (NCRPO) asked the same question and sent a special force to investigate. A few days prior, the three apprehended suspects were released by the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office because they were waiting on the scientific evidence. A day before, the aforementioned second autopsy was done to Christine’s corpse before they flew it over to General Santos City for her funeral. According to NCRPO chief Vincent Danao Jr. there was a “big possibility” that Dacera’s autopsy was contaminated from the embalming process.
After more investigation and interrogation, the suspects revealed that they had been forced to say that illegal drugs were used in the party by the Makati Police. A later drug test cleared all respondents of intaking illegal drugs. Increasing medical evidence showed that Christine’s health condition, specifically her heart, was crucially malfunctioning at the time. The flight attendant’s death was concluded to be due to natural causes, specifically a ruptured aortic aneurysm. There was no foul play whatsoever; unlike what the PNP reported, all the men involved were innocent.
The lives of many people involved were changed permanently. One of these is Christine’s mother, Sharon Dacera. In an interview by the BBC, she shared the sorrow and pain she had of her daughter’s passing. “If you see the body of Christine, if you are the mother you will surely feel the pain suffered by Christine”. Another one of these changed lives is the one of Harold Depositar who conducted the initial investigation into the crime. His firing had been filed by the Makati Police for his mishandling of the situation.
Throughout all this turmoil, Christine’s friends who were with her at the hotel were deeply affected. In an interview by ABS-CBN, Gregorio De Guzman, one of the aforementioned respondents and friends of Christine, said that, “All we want is for it to be over because we’ll move on with our lives. We want to restart it because we do not even know where to start to build everything that has been damaged”.
“Yung rape po na sinasabi nila, hinding-hindi po namin magagawa yun sa best friend namin… Nirerespeto po namin si Tin at hindi po namin kayang galawin o kahit ano man,” said Rommel Galido. This man was Christine’s co-flight attendant, he was the one she was closest with in the whole group. JP Dela Serna also mentioned that because of the investigations, they weren’t even able to mourn properly for their friend. Having to continue with life as normal surely would be difficult after experiencing something as chaotic as this, and the only positive part is that the charges against these men are finally cleared.
Nevertheless, may this case be a lesson for everyone to observe and learn about both sides of a story instead of hastily jumping to conclusions. Before making a decision and opinion, it is very much important to first be educated in order to avoid anything like this from happening again.
Jalea, G. (20201, January 6). Timeline: the Christine Dacera case. CNN Philippines. Retrieved from https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2021/1/6/Timeline-Christine-Dacera-case.html?fbclid=IwAR3QnlSwcuQktQTPT3EVaG9msdMK3LHgvtGpG5oKhSAx2vJkyEVs-bZO6Fg
Steinbuch, Y. (2021, January 21). Philippine police chief faces removal over probe in flight attendants death. New York Post. Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2021/01/21/philippines-police-chief-may-be-fired-amid-flight-attendant-death-probe/#:~:text=Harold%20Depositar%20has%20now%20been,profile%20case%2C%20the%20BBC%20reported.&text=Despite%20a%20pending%20medical%20review,case%2C%20according%20to%20the%20BBC.
The damage has been done: respondents in Dacera case speak up after PNP report. (2021, January 28). ABS-CBN News. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/01/28/21/the-damage-has-been-done-respondents-in-dacera-case-speak-up-after-pnp-report
Eugenio, A. (20201, January 6). Who was Christine Dacera? her friends say she's more than a headline. Preview. Retrieved from https://www.preview.ph/culture/who-is-christine-dacera-friends-say-she-s-more-than-a-headline-a2050-20210106