‘SUSPECTS NOT YET OFF THE HOOK’
For DOJ, work on Christine Dacera case has just begunBy NICOLE-ANNE C. LAGRIMAS,GMA News
Work on the Christine Dacera case has just begun for Makati prosecutors, who have set out to find answers to questions surrounding the death of the 23-year-old flight attendant, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said Thursday.
The Philippine National Police had declared the case "solved" after the arrest of just three of 11 suspects, but city prosecutors are taking over with a preliminary investigation starting January 13, after which they will decide whether to charge Dacera's New Year's Eve companions in court.
In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Malcontento made clear that the complaint for rape with homicide has not yet been dismissed.
"They are not yet off the hook. Hindi namin dini-dismiss ang kaso, in fact, nilagay lang namin sa full-blown preliminary investigation ito para lahat ng ebidensiya pumasok from both parties," he said.
As of now, he said all that is certain is that Dacera died, but whether foul play was involved still has to be answered.
Dacera was found lifeless on January 1 in a Makati hotel room where she had checked in to celebrate the New Year. Her family believes she was drugged and sexually abused.
Police arrested three suspects and filed a complaint for rape with homicide, but the Makati prosecutor's office ordered them released pending further investigation, saying the evidence so far is not enough to say a crime was committed.
A preliminary investigation, Malcontento said, will give both parties the chance to submit more evidence.
"I am assuring the Dacera family that this will be fast, justice will be delivered. And in the same manner, the 11 respondents, we will afford them all their rights under the law and we will give them all the chances for them to defend their rights and their stories on this matter," he said on CNN Philippines.
Malcontento said the evidence presented by the police during the inquest of the three arrested suspects was "premature."
"If it is sufficient, we could have dismissed it outright or decided to file the case," he said in the television interview.
In addition, contrary to a police statement, Malcontento said there is no evidence there was semen found on Dacera's body.
"'Yung sinasabing may semen, walang evidence to that effect. Wala, dun sa medico legal, walang sinasabing ganyan," he said.
He said only Dacera's cousin testified that her body had bruises, adding that police should submit "scientific, medical" basis to support this allegation.
Malcontento also said a "healed laceration" cannot prove sexual assault.
He said all these show the need for further investigation.
He also stressed that the Department of Justice now has jurisdiction over the case following the Makati prosecutors' order to conduct a preliminary investigation.
"Ang order na masusunod [ay] 'yung order ng prosecutors natin for the 11 respondents to appear on January 13, 'yan 'yung amin. Wala nang ibang masusunod at this point in time," he said. — RSJ, GMA News