Fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson (c.) is mobbed by the media following a news conference at the Senate in Manila on March 28.  (AP photo/Bullit Marquez)


MANILA — Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he has “an inkling” of who ordered the murder of former publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

Lacson also said he was ready to talk or provide possible leads on the crime but was turned off by the Dacer family’s pinning the blame on him.

Lacson made the declaration in a press conference at the Senate two days after surfacing from 14 months of hiding.

He also welcomed reports that the Dacer family planned to bring the issue to the Supreme Court (SC).

“It’s a matter of right. It’s up to them if they want to elevate it to the SC. And the RTC [Regional Trial Court] precisely is a lower court and I can question the decision of the lower court before a higher court, which is either the CA [Court of Appeals] or the SC,” said the former police chief who arrived in Cebu on Saturday from Hong Kong.

He said he has “an inkling” on the real mastermind of the twin killings, but “it’s a matter of evidence.”

“It is not for me to tell you who is the mastermind. What I know is only based on the information I gathered. If there would be evidence, then why won’t there be a resolution?” Lacson said.

In another interview, Lacson expressed hope that the truth will really come out so that the real mastermind would be held liable for the crime.

He said he understands the plight of the Dacer children “perfectly because they lost their father.”

He told the children of Dacer to look for other suspects and not be fixated on him.

He said he commiserates with the family because he had encountered several families who were victimized before, especially during his time as a police officer.

He also vowed that he is ready to prove before God and the SC his innocence.

Lacson declined to clarify the details of his time hiding but stressed that “if and when the SC rules against (him) or in their favor, then there is no higher court to question the decision of the SC, then (I) will respect the SC’s decision.”

He also debunked the statement of his former subordinate, Cezar Mancao II, who has testified that his former boss at the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) ordered Dacer’s killing.

Justifying his decision to evade the warrant of arrest issued by a Manila court against him, Lacson said the filing of charges was an offshoot of the past Arroyo administration to pin him down on the killings.

“The unvarnished truth is — I was made to suffer for a crime I did not commit. Two former secretaries of justice drove me to become a fugitive from injustice,” Lacson said.

The senator was apparently referring to former Justice Secretaries Raul Gonzalez and Agnes Devanadera.

Lacson also hit the prosecutors whom he claimed were “allowed to shred the rules on evidence in favor of satisfying a last ditch effort of an unelected corrupt regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to put me away for the long good years of my life.”

Lacson was referring to state prosecutor Hazel Valdez, who went to the United States to personally get Mancao’s statement.

He said this constitutes “subornation of perjury” because Valdez forced a person to pin down another.

Contempt from Mancao’s lawyer

But Lacson’s return and his subsequent press conference to explain his flight was met with contempt from Mancao’s counsel.

“Sen. Lacson is romanticizing his life in hiding, when the truth is that he has shown contempt for the courts and the rule of law when he fled from a warrant of arrest issued by a competent court based on information filed by the Department of Justice,” lawyer Ferdinand Topacio told the Philippine Star.

“He does this to conceal his own misconduct and to hide those who aided him in evading the law, which is in itself a criminal offense. Hence, he is condoning not only a bad example but a blatant disregard for the laws of the land. If he suffered in hiding, he only has himself to blame,” said Topacio.

Lawyer Demetrio Custodio, legal counsel for the Dacer family, said it was wrong for Lacson to go into hiding in the first place.

“He, as a senator, should be the first to uphold the law, but he did exactly the reverse and exploited his position to be able to evade arrest. This teaches us a very wrong lesson: that it is okay for anyone who has sufficient means and resources to evade arrest,” he said.

“It appears now that he respects the judicial system only when it favors him. Since the CA favored him, he now says he respects the judicial system. But when the RTC did not favor him, he removed himself from the country. Is that respect?” Custodio added.

He said Lacson should have really lived a life of a prisoner and be jailed after the warrant of arrest was issued against him.

Lacson had kept to himself the details of his hiding, saying he lived on the rule “don’t get caught.”

He said he travelled from place to place but clarified that he got his travel document back to the Philippines only after his name was de-listed from the Red Notice of the Interpol.

He denied having any ally in the present administration.

But Topacio doubted that Lacson has no friends in the present dispensation.

“If he did not feel like an administration ally, then he was not very observant,” he said, adding that there were no serious efforts to effect Lacson’s arrest notwithstanding several sightings, and that Malacañang had welcomed him back like a prodigal son when he finally returned from abroad.

“He is extravagantly presumptuous in alleging that two former secretaries of justice, one incumbent secretary of justice, and two Regional Trial Court judges were wrong about the existence of probable cause against him,” Topacio said.

He said Lacson had once tried to stop the DOJ from investigating the case by previously filing a petition with the Court of Appeals, but this first petition was dismissed.

“So three Court of Appeals justices were also wrong? To Sen. Lacson, anybody who does not agree with him is wrong and only he is right. This is a dangerous attitude for someone who is in public office and wielding so much pelf and power,” said Topacio.

GMA allies gang up on Lacson

Meanwhile, allies of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Lacson’s pronouncement that he was willing to forgive the former leader was just a scheme to strengthen his defense in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay said the main issue is that Lacson was implicated in the double murder case.

“So what’s GMA got to do with the case? He wants to put in the angle of politics,” Magsaysay said.

“But the public has to ask him: Why did he hide? He should be man enough like Erap Estrada, who faced the issue, the legal case of plunder against him. He did not escape,” she said.

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said the statement was apparently meant to allow Lacson “to focus on his legal battles ahead.”

“He (Lacson) has done sizable damage (to the Arroyo administration) and since he has a lot of legal battles ahead, maybe he does not want complications,” Suarez said, stressing that Arroyo has done nothing wrong against Lacson.

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