Three suspects in Christine Dacera case released for further investigation

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The Makati City prosecutor's office on Wednesday ordered the release of the three suspects earlier arrested in connection with the controversial death of flight attendant Christine Dacera, saying more evidence is needed to determine if the incident was a rape-slay. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 6) — The three suspects earlier arrested in connection with the controversial death of flight attendant Christine Dacera, have been released on Wednesday, following the Makati City prosecutor's office order, which noted that more evidence is needed to determine if the incident was a rape-slay.

John Pascual Dela Serna III, Rommel Galido and John Paul Halili faced reporters upon leaving detention at the Makati City police department.

"Wala kaming kasalanan [We did nothing wrong]," Halili said in tears.

Dela Serna and Galido also maintained their innocence.

"Si Christine parang naging kapatid ko na siya. Sobrang mahal na mahal ko si Christine," said Galido. "Sana malinawan ang mga pamilya ni Christine."

[Translation: Christine was like a sibling to me. I love her very much. I hope her family will see things clearly.]

Police earlier said they slapped rape and homicide charges against the arrested suspects due to the presence of bruises, lacerations, and fluids on Dacera's body. But in a resolution, the Makati prosecutor's office said there was not enough evidence to establish if Dacera was sexually assaulted or raped. The cause of Dacera's death also remains unclear, it added.

"No evidence medically or scientifically was presented to prove that the cause of death or the rupture of aortic aneurysm was by reason of the alleged rape," the resolution stated. "Likewise, if homicide was committed, the person/s responsible is/are yet to be ascertained through further evidence."

An initial autopsy report by the police medico-legal also revealed that Dacera died of "ruptured aortic aneurysm." No traces of seminal fluids were indicated, contradicting Makati Police Chief Col. Harold Depositar's pronouncement that there was semen found on Dacera.

The resolution noted the facts of the case being: Dacera checked in the the City Garden Hotel at 11 a.m., December 31 with Galido, Dela Serna as well as a Louie De Lima and a Clark Rapinan. At 10 p.m., the group began eating and drinking when Galido noticed that Dacera drank strong alcoholic drinks namely, tequila and rum coke. Also joining them were Gregorio De Guzman, Valentine Rosales, Mark Anthony Rosales, Jammyr Cunanan, and Eduard Madrid. Halili later joined the crowd at 1:45 a.m..

CCTV footage showed that Dacera was last seen alive at 6:23 a.m. of January 1. It was at 12:25 p.m. when the hotel front desk received a call from a male person asking for assistance as Dacera was unconscious in the bathtub. Dacera was then brought to the Makati Medical Center where she was declared dead on arrival.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, De Guzman, who was one of the persons labeled "at large" by the prosecutor, also asserted his innocence, adding he and his friends even went to the police to give their statements. De Guzman said he waited around four hours at the precinct, before he was allowed to go home. He was not sought for a statement at the time, he added.

The prosecutor recommended preliminary investigations on the complaints against Dela Serna, Galido and Halili, as well as the complaints against De Guzman, Rapinan, Valentine and Mark Anthony Rosales, Mabini, De Lima, Cunanan and Madrid, who have been labelled as "at large."

On Tuesday, Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Debold Sinas threatened to "hunt down" the suspects involved in Dacera's death. 

The prosecutor, however, instructed the police to submit more evidence such as DNA analysis report, toxicology or chemical analysis, and the histopath examination report.

The preliminary investigations have been set for 10 a.m. of January 13.