CHICAGO (JGL) – Fugitive Cezar O. Mancao II’s reported plan to surrender Saturday (Jan. 7) is long overdue, according to his lawyer, Rev. Arnedo S. Valera, an ordained Evangelical minister based in Fairfax, Virginia.
“Since day one of his escape, I have called and advised him to surrender. Being a fugitive from justice will not do him any good,” Reverend Valera said.
Mancao, 52, escaped from his detention at the National Bureau of Investigation jail in Manila, Philippines on May 9, 2013 when he was removed from the government’s state witness program and the government started to transfer him to the Manila city jail, five days before former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada was sworn in as Manila mayor.
In his affidavit, Mancao named Estrada, his former superior officer and then General and Senator Panfilo Lacson, as the masterminds behind the murder of Filipino publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer. Mancao also named his immediate fellow police superior officer Michael Ray Aquino as the one, who ordered police senior Superintendent Glenn G. Dumlao to conduct surveillance operation of Dacer.
Valera said, “I am hoping and praying that he (Mancao) surrenders for the right reasons, that is to fully disclose what he knows in his role in the murder of Dacer and Dacer’s driver, Emmanuel Corbito.
“When I represented him in his extradition hearing in the US and prior to his return to the Philippines, he asked for forgiveness from the Filipino people for all the wrongs he has done. He owes the Filipino nation an explanation. All the statements he makes as a condition or conditions for his surrender if ever there are conditions should not in anyway lead to the closure of the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.
“WE WANT THE TRUTH TO COME OUT”
“We want justice for the families of Dacer and Corbito and we want the truth to come out, and Colonel Mancao owes that to the Filipino people and our nation.”
Valera added, “I stand with my previous recommendation for an independent body or board of inquiry to fully investigate once and for all the Dacer-Corbito double murder case and the Department of Justice must release all information related to it. Even the Senate in aid of legislation can use its plenary powers to open up a Senate Probe on these killings because it will open up new policies on how to deal with extrajudicial killings perpetrated in our country where powerful individuals are implicated for these heinous crimes…”
In an interview with some media workers on Sunday (Saturday, Chicago time), Mancao, a former intelligence officer who was initially considered to be a government witness in the case, apologized to former Senator Lacson and deposed President and now Manila Mayor Estrada for implicating them in the double murder. He also apologized to Philippine Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, who he said, had to spend time and resources to hunt for him.
After learning of his plan to surrender, Secretary De Lima urged Mancao to “’come clean (but) surrender ‘on my terms’ and don’t waste our time.”
De Lima said, Mancao “must tell us the plain and naked truth about that still unresolved mystery which is the Dacer-Corbito murder case.
“That’s the only way for Mancao to redeem himself, given his lost credibility borne by his flip-flopping and contradictory statements and testimonies.”
“MUST FACE HIS LONG-DELAYED TRIAL”
“Mancao must face his long-delayed trial once he resurfaces, and tell the court who should pay for the double murder.
“… [H]e has to contend with the criminal case wherein he remains to be an accused. He must face the trial squarely and prove the innocence of those truly innocent and the guilt of those truly guilty.”
Mancao told radio and television reporters Sunday that he had a change of heart when he was touched by Pope Francis, who visited the Philippines last month, and had decided to come clean and apologize to those he implicated in the Dacer and Corbito murders.
Reacting to Mancao’s recantation and apology, Estrada on Sunday said he felt vindicated, saying, “It’s good that the truth finally came out.”
Estrada added he could not imagine ordering the killing of Dacer who he said was one of his closest friends and a kumpare (family friend), as they both stood as godfathers to each other’s children.
Lacson, who was cleared of any liability in the double murder by the Court of Appeals—a ruling that was later upheld by the Supreme Court—said he has already forgiven Mancao and the others, who accused him of perpetrating the killings.
AQUINO ASKED DUMLAO TO TAIL DACER
Lacson said Mancao had credibility issues. “More than the persecution of innocent people, what Mancao did four years ago [when he accused Lacson of the murders] spoke of his weak character.”
Then former police senior superintendent Michael Ray Aquino’s subordinates subsequently caught up with Dacer and Dacer’s driver while Dacer’s SUV was on a traffic stop, waiting for a green light at the intersection of South Expressway at the boundary of Manila and Makati on Nov. 24, 2000 and abducted them at gun-point and took them to Cavite where they were murdered.
Mancao was one of the three ranking police officers, who were later charged with double murder conspiracy of Dacer and Corbito, who were choked with wires before being burned on top of a pile of wood. The two others were his immediate superior, former senior Superintendent Michael Ray Aquino, and his subordinate officer, former senior Superintendent Glenn G. Dumlao.
Both Aquino and Dumlao were likewise later discharged from the murder conspiracy and are now free men. Mancao named Lacson as the one who ordered Aquino to ask then police superintendent Glenn G. Dumlao to tail Dacer at Dacer’s office in the Manila Hotel. Based on Mancao’s testimony, information was filed against Lacson and a warrant of arrest was issued, causing Lacson to turn fugitive from justice.
Former Philippine government prosecutor Carlos A. Cortes, Jr., who is now an immigrant in Chicago, said Mancao’s surrender should finally put some closure on this long drawn-out double murder case. For his part, Marlon L. Pecson of the U.S. Pinoys For Good Government said, “I hope the Philippine government has no hand in Mancao’s surrender in order to eclipse the on-going investigation of the multiple murders of the 44 members of the Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last week.