JP Dela Serna, one of the respondents in the Christine Dacera case, retracted Wednesday an earlier statement on the presence of ‘powder drugs’ during the New Year’s Eve celebration that preceded their friend’s death, one of his lawyers said.
Earlier reports said Dela Serna said in a sworn statement that Mark Anthony Rosales, another respondent, had brought “powder drugs” and invited him to use it. He said he declined.
But Abby Portugal, one of Dela Serna’s lawyers, and four other respondents, said her clients were “pressured” by Makati police to say that.
Dela Serna, Rommel Galido, and John Paul Halili were detained by police until prosecutors ordered them released for further investigation.
“The powder issue insinuating drug use actually came from the mouth of the PNP Makati,” Portugal told reporters in Makati.
“It was added by them after subjecting the two detained to mental torture and misrepresentations that they will be released from detention and that no charges will be filed against them,” she added.
Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting a separate investigation, is waiting for the findings of the Makati Medical Center considered to be “valuable” on Dacera’s case as it was able to examine the victim before she was embalmed by police authorities.
According to a report on “24 Oras,” Dacera had undergone at least five several medical tests at the Makati Medical Center where she was declared dead-on-arrival on January 1.
“They are first-hand in Christine’s cadaver. So most likely we can get information there. The report of
Makati Med. will be very valuable,” said Jun De Guzman, NBI Deputy Director for Investigative Services.
Documents received by GMA News from an NBI source showed that five tests were done on Dacera based on her hospital bill.
This included an examination for traces of illegal drugs such as opium, morphine, benzodiazepine or tranquilizer, marijuana, ecstasy, and methamphetamine.
According to the NBI, once it is finished with its investigative and forensic examinations, it may submit these as supplemental evidence to present charges or it may file a separate charge.
Subpoenas have been also issued to almost all persons of interest who had interacted with Dacera before she died.
In a press statement, the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office said the next hearing is scheduled on Jan. 27, after police investigators are still waiting for the results of forensics tests on Dacera’s body such as DNA analysis, toxicology/chemical analysis, histopathology examination, and laboratory results from the Makati Medical Center.
Meanwhile, seven of the 11 respondents attended the preliminary investigation. Out of the seven, only five submitted counter-affidavits.
The PNP also submitted a supplemental complaint of the investigating police officers.
On Tuesday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said forensic experts from the NBI had recovered 100 milliliters of urine from the second autopsy on the remains of Dacera, which he said might help uncover the circumstances behind her death.
Portugal said her clients maintain that there were no drugs during their gathering, adding they had tested negative in a drug test.
“They did not see any drugs. As per Rommel Galido, he was just told by Christine that she thinks that drug (illegal) was mixed in her drink... so purely hearsay,” the lawyer told GMA News Online.
Galido earlier said Dacera told him she believed “Mark” — supposedly referring to Rosales — had spiked her drink.
Portugal said Galido had no actual knowledge of whether this was true.
“What was told in the media is the truth. Freely given by the five respondents. They were not coached by us (lawyers),” she said.
On Dela Serna’s prior statement, Portugal said: “Basically, it was the statement of the Makati police when they mentioned about the drugs insofar as JP is concerned.”
Eleven men face a complaint for rape with homicide in connection with Dacera’s death on New Year’s Day.
The 23-year-old flight attendant’s family believes she was drugged and sexually abused, but some of her friends claimed they did not and could not have harmed their “baby sister.”
Prosecutors are investigating the allegations, and the next hearing is set for January 27.
The NBI said it was “very thorough” in its collection of evidence for the case as it seeks to confirm the results of the urine sample from the victim.
“We were very thorough in the collection of the pieces of evidence. We rest assure you that the discovery by the NBI of some organs will lead to a good investigative report,” Forensic Services Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin said.
In a related development, the Makati hotel where Dacera was found on New Year’s Day denied Wednesday it provided leisure accommodation to the flight attendant and her friends.
Dacera, 23, was found unconscious and without a pulse in a bathtub at the City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati City around 12:30 p.m.
On January 1 after a night of partying, her friends said they tried to revive her and brought her to the Makati Medical Center, where she was later declared dead.
The Department of Tourism has asked the hotel, which functions as a quarantine facility, to explain why Dacera and her friends were allowed to book rooms.
City Garden Grand Hotel, in a 4-page reply to the agency’s show-cause order, said Dacera and her companions booked three rooms (2207, 2209 and 2009) under corporate accounts.
“There was no clear indication that these guests knew each other, or made the reservations with the intention of holding a party within the hotel premises,” it said.
“The corporate accounts pertained to businesses that were within the immediate local vicinity of the Hotel or businesses otherwise permitted to book accommodation.”
The hotel said its investigation found “supposed groups of of 9-10 persons were interspersed across 3 different rooms” but it was still determining “circumstances surrounding each person’s participation in the gathering.”
“None of the guests was made known to our front office manager at any time throughout the day. These visitors could only have gained access to guest floors with the aid of registered guests, in violation of hotel policies prohibiting such gatherings,” it said.
“From initial review of CCTV footage, no obvious comings and goings were seen from any of the 3 rooms that would have roused the suspicion of our CCTV clerk, as their presence in any public spaces were brief.”
It also denied claims that it allows social events, saying that only one restaurant is open in the building with a maximum half-capacity.
The hotel asserted that it “complied and will continue to comply with all health and safety regulations.”
The DOT received the reply from the hotel on Friday, January 8, and said it would release soon its decision on the accreditation of the hotel and its license to operate. With PNA
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