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Makati prosecutor orders 3 suspects in Dacera case freed

A Makati City prosecutor ordered the release of 3 suspects in the death of Christine Angelica Dacera, a 23-year-old flight attendant, after finding that police submitted insufficient evidence to prove she was killed and raped.

Prosecutor General Ben Malcontento on Wednesday, January 6, announced to reporters the contents of this resolution.

In her 3-page resolution on Wednesday, January 6, Makati Assistant City Prosecutor Joan Bolina-Santillan resolved to refer the case for further investigation and ordered the following suspects freed from police custody:

  1. John dela Serna
  2. Rommel Galido
  3. John Paul Halili

"After a thorough examination of the evidence presented on inquest, this Office finds that there are certain matters that need to be clarified to determine the participation and culpability of each respondent for the alleged rape and killing of Christine Angelica Dacera," Santillan said in her resolution.

The 3 have been detained by police since January 1.

Dacera was found dead in a Makati hotel on January 1 after a night of partying with friends, then was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. Her case has sparked a national conversation on rape after police prematurely labeled her case a "rape-slay."

Why does this matter?

This means the police's current submission did not suffice for the city prosecutor to find probable cause and forward the complaint to a court.

According to Santillan, the police have yet to establish two essential facts:

  1. Whether Dacera was raped and/or killed, and if yes, who was responsible
  2. Dacera's cause of death

"At this point, the pieces of evidence so far submitted are insufficient to establish that she was sexually assaulted or raped. And, if sexual assault/rape was committed, who Is/are the person/s responsible?" Santillan said in her resolution.

This comes after the police prematurely declared that Dacera was a victim of rape and homicide without providing much evidence. It earlier announced that she died of an aortic rupture, and also argued, just based on injuries on her arms and legs, that she was raped.

When reporters asked the police to release its autopsy report, they refused.

Santillan, in her resolution, asked the police to provide more evidence, "like DNA analysis, toxicology/chemical analysis and histopath examination."

The hearing for the preliminary investigation of the case, where the police can begin submitting additional pieces of evidence, is set for January 13. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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