National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Police Brigadier General Vicente Danao Jr. said Christine Dacera had to be immediately embalmed because she was “presumed” to be undergoing quarantine at the City Garden Grand Hotel where she was found dead on New Year’s Day.
Danao noted that the policies during the pandemic require a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case to be embalmed immediately before they would be subjected to autopsy.
“Pandemic po tayo ngayon. We have a policy na nagsasabi, especially pagka probable or suspected victim ka or the cause of death might be [of] COVID, ang policy pala diyan is mauna ‘yung embalming bago ‘yung autopsy,” Danao said.
“It is a quarantine facility, okay? So it is presumed na kapag nandoon ka ay baka nagkwa-quarantine ka,” Danao said.
However, the NCRPO chief admitted that he did not know if the flight attendant was tested for the virus before embalming.
“‘Yun po ang hindi ko alam. That is always their right as the family of the ano, no, victim. They could always recommend over that and it is now up to the higher authorities to act on it, no?” Danao said.
Meanwhile, forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun said authorities could have stored Dacera’s remains in the refrigerator while waiting for her COVID-19 results (if there’s any) instead of embalming her right away.
NCRPO chief explains why Dacera was embalmed before autopsy
According to reports, Christine’s remains were kept in a refrigerator at the hospital for two days.
The medico-legal officer from the Philippine National Police (PNP) crime lab identified as Police Major Michael Nick Sarmiento ordered the embalming even without the consent of Dacera’s family.
An administrative complaint has been filed against Sarmiento.
Fortun said many crucial pieces of evidence were destroyed by the embalming including a toxicology test.
Danao said that since there is no toxicology test, the PNP would now rely on the testimonies of the witnesses.
“It doesn’t matter kung wala po ‘yung ating toxicology results as long as there will be witnesses who will be coming out to testify what really transpired on that evening,” Danao said.