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Christine Dacera laid to rest in GenSan

Christine Dacera -- the 23-year-old flight attendant who died after a New Year's Eve party in a Makati Hotel -- was laid to rest in General Santos on Sunday.

Dacera's casket was carried to the site by policemen, with the Philippine National Police (PNP) explaining that this was done to ensure that health protocols are followed amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

"The deployment of policemen during the burial was meant to ensure minimum health protocols. We are in a pandemic," PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said in a mobile message.

Asked if the deployment of police is a standard protocol for such cases, Usana said the police force is deployed whenever there are gatherings.

"And yes, whenever people gather, the police will be there to ensure that people are safe from the virus and compliant with DOH standards," he said.

To recall, Dacera was last seen partying with at least 12 men -- some of them her friends -- at the City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati where she was found unconscious in a bathtub on January 1.

On January 4, the police announced that three suspects were arrested and charged with rape with homicide, even as the initial medical report stated that Dacera died due to a ruptured aortic aneurysm.

Dacera's family however insisted that she was drugged and sexually abused, as they claimed the medical report did not include the injuries sustained and that she was very healthy.

The following day, Dacera's family appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte for help, after which PNP chief Debold Sinas issued a 72-hour ultimatum for the other suspects to surrender or be hunted down.

The PNP also deemed the case "solved" even with the investigation still ongoing, as it said the following criteria were met: the "offender" was identified; sufficient evidence was gathered to charge the "offender"; the "offender" was taken into custody; and the "offender was charged before courts.

However, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) acting director Police Brigadier General Vicente Danao Jr. said the evidence presented to show that Dacera was raped was insufficient.

Several of Dacera's companions during the night in question have also maintained their innocence, as they said they could not have done the allegations made against them.

Moving forward, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the matter as he found the police investigation "not thorough enough."

Officials from the NBI headed to General Santos to collect samples from the cadaver on Saturday, January 9, even against the opinion of medical experts that this would yield results given that the body had been embalmed.

"Alam namin na medyo imposible na considering that there had already been compromises. Compromised na 'yung ibang piece of evidence dito, considering na contaminated na, nag-deteriorate na, nagkaroon ng rapid deterioration 'yung ibang ebidensya dito, but again we are not discouraged by that," NBI director Ferdinand Lavin said in a report on GMA's "24 Oras Weekend" on Sunday.

"We have taken as many samples as we could from the cadaver. We hope that this would help us conclude the investigation. We will be doing a series of tests and laboratory runs on the specimen that we have collected today. We will be transporting those to Manila," he added.

Meanwhile, Guevarra insisted that the technology to be used on the tests could still yield results.

"I think they have the technology para makita pa rin kung meron bang illegal substance o sobrang alcohol na nasa katawan ni Christine nung time na siya ay mamatay," he said in the same report. — Jon Viktor Cabuenas/DVM, GMA News