By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
Eleven names have been floated in social media as possible perpetrators of what is, perhaps, the most gruesome New Year’s Day crime on record — the rape and murder of 23-year-old Philippine Airlines flight attendant Christine Dacera.
If found guilty, the names of these 11 men shall be scrolled in infamy (and mailed straight to hell, I hope). God forbid that I curse and judge them prematurely, but as men in whose company a 23-year-old lady ends up drugged, gang-raped, and dead in the bathtub, it would be difficult not to.
Being a father to three daughters, I feel ripped apart from gut to throat for the senseless crime that befell Christine, a stunning Davao City beauty pageant queen.
If her family is correct in their assumption, Christine was set-up in that party, being the only lady surrounded by 11 males – most of them same-night acquaintances. In the words of her family’s counsel, Atty. Jose Ledda: “She was supposed to be with friends, not strangers.”
Clearly, Christine had pimps for friends. Let me be clear that pimping is not a gender orientation, but a crime – and in this case, one as aggravating as rape and homicide. I have to emphasize this, given the fact that investigators identified most of the suspects as gay or bisexual – which is not the issue.
Col. Harold Depositar, chief of the Makati City Police, said it came up in the investigation that Christine might have been drugged, unwittingly gulping it in a spiked drink. He said CCTV footage at the hotel showed that she was taken to another room by one guy and then later to another room before being carried back unconsciously to the room she had checked-in.
And let’s not pass judgment on poor Christine for checking-in at a hotel with fellow flight attendants whom police probers say are gay. It is routine in their line of work to check-in at hotels for a layover in between flights. So, unlike most of us, the victim’s comfort and trust in meeting up with “friends” billeted at a hotel to bid 2020 goodbye wasn’t at all bold or reckless.
Instead, I begin to question why the City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati allowed or tolerated such a party to take place in a rented room in the first place. I thought their permit to operate during a pandemic and under quarantine status committed them to the strict guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Department of Tourism (DOT).
If hotel security were monitoring the CCTV, surely management would have – albeit, should have – seen guests transferring rooms; in this case, more than 10 people converging in one. Wasn’t that a red flag for City Garden Grand Hotel security and supervisors to break up the party?
Or is this particular Makati hotel’s CCTVs only for the purpose of catching theft of hotel property?
I believe that strict compliance with IATF and DOT rules and regulations for hotel operations under general community quarantine could have prevented the crime from happening. A knock at the door from security would have sent them the message that they were being watched, effectively nipping any ill intent to break the rules or commit rape and homicide.
Perhaps, apart from bringing all these suspects to justice, Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay and Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat should also investigate lapses at the hotel where such a gruesome crime had happened.
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