CHICAGO (JGL) – A United States-based lawyer for slain Filipino publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer called the discharge of former Philippine Police Superintendent Michael Ray B. Aquino from the criminal information in the murder of Dacer and Dacer’s driver, Emmanuel Corbito, as a “systemic, and not an aberration” problem.
Rodel E. Rodis, a San Francisco, California-based lawyer for Dacer’
s children, who won a $4-million civil judgment in compensatory and punitive damages in a San Francisco federal district court against Aquino in the case, described Aquino’s discharge from the criminal case as “a total farce. There was no trial so the evidence was never presented to the court for proper review. All that the CA and the trial court reviewed as the evidence presented were for the warrant of arrest.”
On Sept. 14, the Philippine Court of Appeals in a decision written by Associate Justice Stephen Cruz, the CA affirmed the 2012 ruling of the Manila regional trial court (RTC), which dismissed the cases against Aquino for failure of the prosecution to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The CA said there was no grave abuse of discretion when the RTC held that the testimony of witness Glenn Dumlao against Aquino was baseless and shallow.
“In the instant case, the trial court concluded that the lone testimony of Dumlao is insufficient to prove the involvement of private respondent Aquino in the abduction and killing of the victims Dacer and Corbito. This is the legal justification of the trial court in granting Aquino’s demurrer to evidence. And we agree with the trial court’s conclusion,” the CA ruled.
The appellate court pointed out that Dumlao was not an eyewitness to the killing of Dacer and Corbito and that his testimony was in the nature of circumstantial evidence, which was uncorroborated.
UNBROKEN CHAIN OF EVENTS
“Circumstantial evidence can convict an accused of the crime charged only if the circumstances proven constitute an unbroken chain of events, which leads to one fair and reasonable conclusion pointing to the accused, to the exclusion of the others, as the guilty person,” the CA said.
“In the instant case, while it is possible that the accused has committed the crime, there is also the possibility, based on the evidence presented, that he has not. He should be deemed to have not for failure to meet the test of moral certainty,” the CA said.
But Rodis countered and said, “The evidence used for the warrant of arrest is not the whole evidence. In this case, the evidence used was the declaration of (co-accused former P/Supt. Glenn G.) Dumlao that he was ordered by Aquino to proceed to Cavite to “TI” (tactically interrogate) Dacer, who was in a safe house of the PAOCTF.
“Based on that warrant of arrest, Aquino fled to the US and remained in the US until he was extradited back to the Philippines. In the meantime, other corroborating evidence materialized about Aquino’s principal involvement in the abduction, torture and murder of Dacer-Corbito. But all these evidence would have been presented at the trial if the case had proceeded to trial.
“But it was thrown out by a judge, who determined that the basis for the warrant of arrest is all that was needed to judge the innocence of Aquino, not the evidence that would have been presented at trial. What a farce.” Rodis added. “How much did these judges get paid?”
Reached for comment on the discharge of Aquino from the double-murder case, Mancao’s US-based pro-bono lawyer, Arnedo S. Valera, who is now an Ordained Evangelical Minister, challenged Justice Sec. Leila de Lima to “make public the results and findings of their independent committee re: Dacer-Corbito including the testimony of witnesses who were killed after testifying.”
MANCAO BE RETURNED TO WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM
Arnedo, of Fairfax, Virginia, said, “Yes. A warrant of arrest for my client has been there for months. In fact, he was considered fugitive from justice. I strongly advised him as his US based lawyer to surrender. However, given the pending threats to his life, Secretary De Lima should return him to the Witness Protection Program, quash the warrant of arrest and based on the independent findings made by the special commission investigating the Dacer-Corbito double murder cases, which started during the time of (Pres.) Arroyo, to file criminal cases against all those involved, including the powerful individuals behind these murders. I strongly believe that Mancao is still a key and material witness in resolving these crimes. We need to serve justice though heavens fall!!
“The Department of Justice should continue its prosecution of all the accused in the double murder of Dacer and Corbito.. They have all the evidence sufficient to indict all those involved for murder. The main question is do they have the political will to file cases against these untouchables and powerful individuals? Once again, justice was not served not because there was no evidence. But because the Courts blindly look the other way and the Department of Justice is not serious in prosecuting the culprits…..”