Trigger Warning: sexual assault, rape, victim-blaming.
On January 1, 2020, a flight attendant named Christine Angelica Dacera was found unconscious in a bathtub at the City Garden Hotel in Makati City. According to a report by Inquirer, three friends and hotel staff rushed Christine to the hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival. She was only 23 years old.
The initial cause of death was declared to be a ruptured aortic aneurysm, but according to the Makati City Police they suspected foul play because "the victim had lacerations and sperm in her genitalia." Bruises, contusions, and scratches on her arms and legs were also found. According to the victim's mother, Christine attended a New Year's Eve party with some of her friends and colleagues. The family's lawyer added that they believe it was a "set-up": "She was supposed to be with friends and she was not supposed to be with strangers. She was with friends and suddenly, dumami sila."
On January 4, the Philippine National Police (PNP) declared that the rape-slay case was solved—even though most of the suspects still remained at-large. According to the PNP's official post, three suspects are in police custody and have been charged for the crime of rape with homicide: John Pascual dela Serna III, Rommel Daluro Galido, and John Paul Reyes Halili. Police identified the nine other persons of interest who are the subjects of "follow-up operations" as Gregorio Angelo de Guzman, Louie de Lima, Clark Jezreel Rapinan, Rey Englis, Mark Anthony Rosales, Jammyr Cunanan, Valentine Rosales, "a certain Ed Madrid," and "a certain Paul." Some friends of the suspects have come forward on social media, claiming that many of them are gay and bisexual and that they could not have been involved in the rape-slay case.
Some Facebook comments on news articles are questioning why the victim even attended a party with her male friends, saying she "should have known better" and that she "should've worn more clothes." One person wrote: "You attended a new year celebration with friends but it cost your life. Don't ever trust a male friend in a private place. Lust is stronger than his friendship for you," while another said: "Bakit rin naman siya nakisali sa party kung alam naman niyang siya lang ang nag-iisang babae? Sana natulog na lang siya sa kwarto niya!"
The case has raised relevant conversations regarding victim-blaming and rape culture, with "#JusticeForChristineDacera," "#StopVictimBlaming," and "#ProtectDrunkGirls" becoming the trending topics on Twitter since last night.
"Rape happens because of rapists, not because anyone 'asked for it,'" Bianca Gonzalez wrote on Twitter. Frankie Pangilinan added: "It is never the clothes, never the drinks—never the victim, period. It is always, ALWAYS, the rapist's fault. How many more times do we have to hammer this home for it to stick in your thick skulls, please? Christine Dacera shouldn't have needed protection. Enough of that dialogue. She was a woman who deserved basic, human decency."
A relevant quote, one that also appeared in the show It's Okay To Not Be Okay, has also resurfaced: "The one who neglects and turns a blind eye to the abuse is worse than the abuser."
Christine, also known as "Ica," was a flight attendant for Philippine Airlines and graduated cum laude from the University Of The Philippines Mindanao. She was also part of her school's dance troupe and joined several beauty pageants. UP Mindanao released an official statement on January 3 and part of it reads: "Ms. Ica was an examplar of honor and excellence in balancing her academics and passion for performing arts. May you rest in peace and the memories of your kind-hearted soul continue to bless the hearts of the people you've touched in your remembrance. You will be missed, Ica."