VERA FILES FACT CHECK: TV report on funeral home ‘abusing’ Dacera’s corpse FAKE

Twelve Facebook (FB) posts published across nine public groups are circulating an altered screengrab of a 24 Oras news item about the remains of flight attendant Christine Dacera. The fake posts that were spread in a span of six minutes on Jan. 6 claimed her body was “abused” at the “Makati Funeral Homes.” Dacera made headlines after she was found dead in a Makati hotel on New Year’s Day.

A review of all the episodes on YouTube of the GMA primetime news program from Jan. 3, when the news about Dacera broke, until Jan. 6 revealed that the station reported no such incident.

There are also no news reports about Dacera’s body being brought to a “Makati Funeral Homes.” The business name appears to be made up. Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission nor the Department of Trade and Industry, which holds records of registered businesses in the country, has the mortuary recorded in its list.

According to media reports, Dacera was declared dead on arrival at the Makati Medical Center. Her body was temporarily placed in a refrigerated facility at the hospital before it was embalmed and autopsied at Rizal Funeral Homes in Pasay City on Jan. 2.

In a Jan. 5 press conference, Dacera’s family said they conducted a separate autopsy, but did not disclose who did the examination. Another autopsy was done by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in General Santos City on Jan. 9, a day before her burial.

The false posts manipulated a screengrab of 24 Oras’ Jan. 4 report about Dacera, which showed the same picture of the flight attendant at the timestamp of 7:43 p.m.

The inset of a sign language interpreter was removed in the manipulation, and the content of the original news ticker was changed.

The fabricated screengrab also bore a small picture of an embalmer attending to a corpse. A reverse image search of the photo yielded web pages about thanatopraxy, or the act of preserving human cadavers from decomposition.

A high definition copy of the image can be found in a November 2014 post on Wordpress blog “Todo Sobre Un Tanatopractor (All about a thanatopractor),” but the photo has been on the Web as early as 2011.

The altered 24 Oras report circulated a day after Dacera’s family said they conducted a separate autopsy on Christine, after “disagreeing” with the result of the first autopsy conducted by the Philippine National Police’s Scene of Crime Operations (PNP SOCO) team that determined the cause of Dacera’s death to be ruptured aortic aneurysm.

While the 12 flagged posts received low individual engagements — collectively accumulating only around 200 reactions, 290 comments, and 26 shares — a cursory search of the fake report’s headline on Facebook yielded several more copies. Most of the posts also carried the same caption, which includes a link to a FB post that has also already been taken down.

The netizen who published four of the 12 posts flagged by VERA Files Fact Check has said in a FB status update that she was not the one who shared the fake screengrabs, alleging that her account was wrongfully used to peddle the posts.

The nine FB groups where the altered image was shared to are all public buy and sell FB groups: Samsung Tablet Buy @ Sell, Quezon City Buy and Sell, Murang kotse at motorsiklo bentahan, BENTAHAN SA LUCENA, Laguna Buy n Sell, MERKADO UKAY DIRECT SELLER, Online Marketing Homebase Business Group, Hachi's Buy and Sell, and Bentahan ng murang sasakyan(kotse,motor).

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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