NEWARK,NJ (March 27) – The lawyer for Michael Ray B. Aquino has dealt a blow to the speedy extradition of Aquino’s co-accused Cezar Ochoco Mancao II and Glenn Galapon Dumlao.
Aquino’s lawyer, Mark A. Berman, had asked Assistant US Attorney Eric Todd Kanelfsky of New Jersey to delay the extradition of Mancao and Dumlao as he is going to call them as witnesses in the extradition case of Aquino pending before the US District Court of New Jersey in Newark.
In a brief extradition hearing Thursday (March 26), Magistrate Judge Esther Salas of the US District Court of New Jersey delayed the hearing to give Berman, Aquino’s lawyer in the extradition, time to file briefs and line up witnesses.
Aquino’s extradition was originally filed before the Eastern District Court of North Carolina in Raleigh but Magistrate Judge William A. Webb of the Eastern District of North Carolina transferred his case to the US District Court of New Jersey in Newark “in the light of the defendant’s presence in the State of New Jersey.”
Aquino, Mancao and Dumlao fled the Philippines in 2001 after they were suspected to be part of the conspiracy in the double murder of Filipino publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and Dacer’s driver, Emmanuel Corbito eight years ago.
Mancao’s lawyer, Arnedo Valera, earlier told this reporter that “barring any technicality or technicalities … my understanding” is that Mancao is going to leave for the Philippines on Tuesday.
Dumlao earlier dealt the first setback to the Philippine prosecution when he managed to secure last March 16 an order to stay his extradition from Judge Thomas C. Platt of the Eastern District of New York in Central Islip in Long Island.
In seeking the delay of the extradition of Mancao and Dumlao, Berman said “We see this as a continuation of a politically motivated prosecution, and we are going to fight extradition.”
Aquino is now being held at the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearney, New Jersey. He has been in jail since his arrest in 2005 for spying. He pleaded guilty on two counts of unauthorized possession and willful retention of two classified documents relating to national defense supplied to him by US Marine Leandro Aragoncillo, a Filipino-American, who once worked as an aide of Vice Presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney.
Aquino was sentenced to 76 months but he won an appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, vacating the 76 months sentence and remanding the case to US District Court Judge Willam H. Wall of New Jersey in Newark.
The federal appeals court said the US District Court of New Jersey made a mistake in interpreting the federal sentencing guidelines and ordered resentencing. The resentencing is scheduled on March 31 in Newark by Judge Walls.
At the resentencing, Berman, who was also Aquino’s lawyer in the spying case, said he believes Aquino will be sentenced to time served and Aquino could be eligible for immediate release. Berman, however, agreed, to keep Aquino in detention pending resolution of Aquino’s extradition.
Judge Webb issued last Feb. 11, 2009 a one-page order following the motion filed by Assistant US Attorney Barbara D. Kocher of the of the US Attorney’s office in Raleigh to transfer the extradition case of Aquino on behalf of the Philippine government.
While Aquino was serving his spying sentence at Federal Medical Center Butner, in Butner, North Carolina, the US Attorney’s office in Raleigh filed an extradition case against Aquino on Oct. 16, 2008 at the instance of the Philippine government’s extradition charge against Aquino. Aquino is “charged with being a fugitive” from the Philippines, which has “sought his provisional arrest with a view towards extradition to answer a charge of murder.”
Aquino is one of the principal accused in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case in the Philippines, of which the names of deposed Joseph Estrada and then Philippine National Police chief — now senator — Panfilo were dragged.
The two other officers being extradited for the Dacer-Corbito double murder are his fellow Philippine police officers Cezar Ochoco Mancao II and Glenn Galapon Dumlao. Mancao is due to be extradited to the Philippines next Tuesday, March 31, while Dumlao has managed to delay his extradition after securing an order to stay his extradition from Judge Platt.
When he was charged with extradition in the US District Court of the Eastern District of North Carolina, Aquino represented himself as his own lawyer.
In his affidavit, Mr. Mancao named his fellow officers Aquino, Dumlao and his superiors, then General-now-Senator Panfilo Lacson and President Joseph Estrada as co-conspirators in the Dacer-Corbito double murder.