Ghost Busters

“Whenever I take up a newspaper, I seem to see ghosts floating between the lines.” Norweigian poet Henrik Ibsen’s remark came to mind on reading reports  that  former police Senior Supt. Cezar Mancao  scrammed  from his NBI  cell.  How?  By ”using his own key” .

Mancao fled to the US in 2001, after being linked to murders of  public relations man Bobby Dacer and driver Emmanuel Corbito. On November 24, 2000, Presidential  Anti-Organized Crime Task Force agents,  overseen  by former Supt. Michael Ray Aquino, flagged down Dacer’s car at a Makati intersection.

Dacer and  driver  were  strangled by PAOCTF  agents and cops “using electric cords before their corpses” were torched,  farmers Alex Diloy and Jimmy Lopez  testified.  Their  burnt  corpses were found four days later, in barangay in Buna Lejos.  UP  forensic pathologists identified Dacer and Corbito  from, among other evidence,  “metal dental plates and a ring.”     .

Ex-president  Fidel Ramos was to briefed by  Dacer on the raging BW stock resouces scandal. Estrada was, at that time, being  impeached by the House of Representatives. Among other  charges,  was  he repeatedly called SEC to clear BW Resources.

Were BWR  permits for gambling, authorized by Erap, swapped for  BW shares?  Financier Dante Tan  didn’t  wait for the impeachment to end. He bolted for Australia. On March 31, 2001, Ramos accused Estrada of being involved in the “tragic and murderous kidnapping.”

“My name is  not  bigote ( mustache),” Estrada  told  Inquirer. “It is Erap.  People call me Erap,” said now candidate for Manila mayor. That outburst came after fugitive Cezar Mancao  pinpointed Bigote as the “mastermind” in the Cavite rubout.

Footage from a security camera showed Mancao, in white t-shirt  with bull cap, carrying a black bag, slam the cell door behind him  at 1:14 a.m. Thursday. Since then, he has been waging  “war” against  Senator Panfilo Lacson by cell phone.

Lacson ignored  Mancao’s allegation on  masterminding  the Dacer-Corbito rubout. “I’ve long forgiven him and have no interest in him”.

The Court of Appeals’ special sixth division, in February 2011, spiked the double-murder case against Lacson, who then had fled. There was no probable cause “to justify filing of two separate informations for murder against [Lacson].  Consistent with his constitutional right to be presumed innocent and in consonance with existing jurisprudence, he should be relieved from the pain and agony of trial….”

“The ridiculousness of it all is mind-boggling”, an Inquirer editorial notes “The ( Mancao breakout ) was captured on a CCTV camera. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima then called Mancao directly to personally confirm with him that he had indeed bolted. “Yes, ma’am,” was Mancao’s polite reply.

“And, in the wake of another purported massive manhunt launched to locate the latest high-profile fugitive, Mancao was still able to grant phone interviews to TV stations—10 hours after he ambled out of the NBI. “

Mancao ducked Inquirer’s question if it was true NBI agents missed him by minutes in Bulacan Friday night. “What they will spend in looking for me is better donated to  victims of Typhoon ‘Pablo’ in  Compostela Valley.”  Fugitive Mancao is running for a seat on Compostela Valley the provincial board in  the May 13 elections.

This riveting exchange entertains. But are we not in danger of glossing over the basic issue, namely: the  unsolved murder of  two  citizens —-   Dacer and Corbito?

“Every unpunished murder takes away something from the security of every man’s life”, Daniel Webster wrote.  Arguments over the roots of this devaluation of God-given life will therefore  persist  long after the Mancao caper fizzles.

Did this all start with the Marcos dictatorship’s torture chambers, like the Military Intelligence Security Group? That’s where Panfilo Lacson  started his blood-stained  climb to national power, notes the Yale University study: “Closer Than Brothers”.

Look at  how Lacson, as a young PMA Class ‘71 graduate developed. “Under martial law, torture became an instrument of power,” McCoy notes. Between 1975 and 1985, some 737 Filipinos “disappeared’   But nearly four times that number –some 2,520, equivalent to 77 percent of all victims were salvaged.

“As the sapling is bent, so will the tree grow.” Lieutenant (later senator,) Panfilo Lacson thrived in that  milieu. He  rose through ranks of the notorious Military Intelligence Security Group, “on a fast track to national police power.”  In the service to Erap, Lacson, stamped that mould on PAOCTF aides: Mancao, Glenn Dumlao, Michael Ray Aquino, among others.

Or does it go back further? Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain asked after slaying Abel.

Where  does this leave the quest for justice by the families of  driver Emmanuel  Corbito and PR man Dacer? Lacson pledged  to tell  Dacer siblings  all  he knew about the rubout. “That never happened,” Carina Dacer  told  Radyo Inquirer.

Thus, Carina, with sisters Emily,  Sabina and , Amparo filed a  $20 million  civil suit against  Lacson, deposed President Joseph Estrada, and four others  before a U.S.  District Court in California for salvaging of their father.  The Mancao episode puts off that quest for justice further still.

As election day nears, ghosts of  evils past  resurged with the Mancao escape. As president, the buck for PAOCTF operations stopped with Erap. He must exorcise those specters by decisively disproving Fidel Ramos charge that he winked at the Dacer-Corbito rubout.

Siya ang gumagawa ng multo, at siya rin any natatakot , the old proverb says.   “He made the ghost and was scared of it.”

(Email: juan_mercado77@yahoo.com)

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