Preserving A Treasure Trove Of Evidence

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (JGL) – The broad-daylight kidnapping preserved early this month by a cell phone camera along EDSA in Mandaluyong took a page from a similar abduction 14 years ago that nipped in the bud the young Joseph “Erap” Estrada presidency.

While a witness to the abduction of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and Dacer’s driver, Emmanuel Corbito, only had nothing but a pair of 20/20 vision eyes, not a cell phone-enhanced camera, it was enough to lead to the arrest of the subordinates of former Police Superintendent Michael Ray B. Aquino.

The policemen pulled the daring abduction in the middle of another highway, Osmena Highway, in the boundary of Manila and Makati.

It was a police uniform worn by one of the abductors that attracted the attention of the cigarette vendor in the Dacer-Corbito abduction that has now become the template of subsequent grave misconducts carried out by goons in uniform.

Remember the Massacre of 13 people in the middle of the road in Atimonan, Quezon last year pulled by policemen that was allegedly concocted by a Dacer-Corbito suspect, P/Supt. Glenn G. Dumlao?

For as long as the principals of these heinous crimes remain free, these criminal activities will keep coming back like a vicious cycle.

With the Court of Appeals clearing Aquino from masterminding the Dacer-Corbito murders, this leaves Aquino’s subordinate former P/Supt. Cezar O. Mancao running for cover.

Mancao bolted from custody of the National Bureau of Investigation last year after the Manila Regional Trial Court denied his request to be placed under the government witness protection program. The court instead ordered his transfer from NBI to Manila City Jail.

Mancao feared the order was issued at the behest of his former boss, former Gen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, whose involvement in the double murder was unfortunately quashed by the Court of Appeals and later affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2011.

CHILLING MANCAO

I don’t blame Mancao if Lacson’s discharge from the double murder is chilling him. Just as soon as Lacson was termed out of his senate seat in 2012, Lacson was back in power in no time as a Rehabilitation Czar with a cabinet rank.

With the acquittal of Aquino last week and the election of former President Estrada as Manila City mayor last year and the appointment of Lacson in the Cabinet, Mancao’s refusal to be confined in the Manila City Jail made him a genius, if not a modern-day Nostradamus.

Had he meekly followed the court order, Mancao would easily have been a dead sitting duck. Lacson, Aquino and Estrada could no longer harass him inside the Manila City Jail!

As the court described Mancao as “not a credible and trustworthy witness” when he named Aquino, Lacson and Estrada as the masterminds behind the Dacer-Corbito murders, this would all the more spur Aquino, Lacson and Estrada to go after Mancao. A dead man tells no tale!

For me, my question to CA, on the discharge of Lacson and Aquino: Whatever happened to the ruling of the Supreme Court in People v. Cirilo (G.R. No. 13445, Dec. 1, 2000), which said, “The unexplained flight of person may, as a general rule, be taken as evidence having tendency to establish his guilt. Once an accused escape from prison or jumps bails or flees to a foreign country, he loses his standing in court, and unless he surrenders or submits himself to its jurisdiction, he is deemed to have waived any right to seek relief from the court”?

Both Lacson and Aquino fled to foreign countries after they were charged in the murders. They surrendered only at their convenience. If they have nothing to hide, why flee?

I suggest Secretary De Lima present the CCTV (closed circuit television) footages and hotel records in the Manila Hotel of Dumlao who checked in as “Irwin Chavez” to corroborate the accuracy of Dumlao’s affidavit that Dumlao later recanted. Dumlao was ordered by Aquino to recover from Dacer incriminating evidence, implicating Lacson and Estrada in the Dante Tan’s illegal BW Resources insider-trading scandal. This evidence allegedly showed proof of “Tan transferring 300,000 shares of stocks to Sen. Lacson and three other parties” and a letter allegedly “found in Dacer’s office, written on Malacañang letterhead and addressed to Tan, demanding Tan to turnover Estrada’s BW stocks amounting to P500 million.”

DACER MURDER ISSUE AT IMPEACHMENT

At the impeachment of Estrada at the House of Representatives, Estrada was accused of “intervening” with SEC Chair Perfecto Yasay “in relation to the BW scandal.”

Tan asked the help of Dacer in his public relations predicament.

As I told my friend, former President and now Manila City Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada, if he has nothing to do with the murder of Dacer because Dacer was his compadre, he should at least be man enough to apologize to Dacer’s heirs for what happened to Dacer under his watch. Erap should be statesman enough to admit that as President, under the principles of command-responsibility and “respondeat superior,” any scandal pulled by his men, is his responsibility.  The “buck stops with the President.” And he should have gone after the “real killers” immediately after he knew of the murders.

In the case of Lacson, instead of looking for the “real killers,” Lacson told Aquino and Mancao to flee from the Philippines so they will not face the music.

As impeachment calls mounted for Estrada’s resignation, Caloocan Rep. “Baby” Asistio asked Dacer to help Estrada’s crumbling image. Dacer was invited to Malacanang to help Estrada in his media campaign on Nov. 21, 2000.

Three days later on Nov. 24, 2000, Dacer and Corbito were abducted and killed.

On the eve of the abduction, P/Supt. Teofilo Vina, who was supposed to be in Cebu where he was assigned as Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force Chief  (PAOCTF) Visayas, boarded Philippine Airlines Flight No. PR 863, arriving in Manila in the evening.

VISAYAN OPERATIVES “OPERATING” IN LUZON

Using his cell phone, Vina ordered his men to “operate” in Indang, Cavite, although it is outside his jurisdiction, so it would not arouse any suspicion.

His Visayas personnel, who are all from Cavite – SPO4 Marino Soberano, SPO3 Jose Escalante and SPO3 Mauro Torres, took orders from Vina how to carry out the murders of the Dacer and Corbito. Vina, who coordinated the “operation” with Dumlao, Mancao and C/Insp. Vicente Arnado thru cell phone calls, took a return flight for Cebu at 6 p.m. of Nov. 24, 2000, almost the same time that Dacer and Corbito were being incinerated as his mission had been accomplished. Ping Lacson is also from Cavite.

Jimmy Lopez, one of the farmers, who witnessed the murders by Vina’s men, said Vina’s men told him Vina was calling them every “30 minutes” on the day of abduction and the killing.

Both Vina and Lopez had been killed mysteriously out of the 22 conspirators charged in court with the murders. And Mancao cannot be far behind!

The forensic transcripts of cell phone calls and text messages used by Vina, Dumlao, Aquino and Mancao and other suspects on the day’s abduction and murders should have been a treasure trove of evidence that can be obtained from the cell phone companies by the Department of Justice to corroborate testimonies of Mancao, Dumlao, Vina, Arnado and others just like the way the recent Mandaluyong robbery-kidnapping was solved!

For Mancao to survive the wrath of Lacson, Aquino and Estrada, and their henchmen, the Philippine Supreme Court should issue writs of amparo and habeas data that would extend protection to Mancao and give him access to information so he will not become part of an extensive Philippine extrajudicial killings (more than 700 and counting) and forced disappearances since 1999.

A precedent of the application of a writ of amparo was established by the Philippine Supreme Court in 2007 when it affirmed a Philippine Court of Appeals judgment in favor of Raymond and Reynaldo brothers, who were abducted by the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAGFU) in San Ildefonso, Bulacan in 2006. The brothers escaped in 2007 after 18 months of detention and torture.

(lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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