Topacio urges Mancao to return to detention

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MANILA, Philippines–The former lawyer of Cezar Mancao II has called on his erstwhile client to yield to authorities following his escape from his detention cell at the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters, an NBI official said Thursday.

Ferdinand Topacio said Mancao’s “justifiable frustration” over the treatment he was getting from the Department of Justice Mancao to leave the NBI.

“I am calling on my compadre Boy Mancao to turn himself in, and if it is necessary for me to again give my assistance to him, I will gladly do so,” Topacio said in a statement.

The lawyer said he had decided to stop providing legal services to Mancao in connection with the 2000 Dacer-Corbito double murder case since he was also the lawyer in two other controversial cases pending in the DOJ.

“While I do not, and will not, condone the act of my former client … I cannot help but empathize with his sad plight and plaints while under the Witness Protection (Program),” he said.

Topacio said Mancao’s case should be “a lesson to our government to treat all those who stood for truth and justice fairly and decently.”

“A government that treats rogues as heroes risks having heroes turn into rogues,” Topacio said.

He said he had written Justice Secretary Leila de Lima asking why Mancao’s name has yet to be stricken from the criminal information that the DOJ filed regarding the 2000 murder of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

Under the Witness Protection Act, the lawyer said accused who decided to turn state witness should be discharged as respondent in the case.

His letter, however, was “ignored” by the DOJ, Topacio said.

“But I believed then, as I believe now, that his leaving (the NBI) was due to his justifiable frustration with the way he was being shabbily treated by the DOJ,” he said.

“After all, a fellow state witness, (Superintendent) Glenn Dumlao, who even turned traitor to the DOJ by testifying in favor of the defense and against the DOJ, had been reinstated to the police service without loss of seniority,” he added.

Topacio also noted that Michael Ray Aquino, one of the primary accused in the case and a former aide of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who was previously tagged as the brains behind the Dacer-Corbito slays, had been freed from prison.

“Senator Lacson … is now the fair-haired boy of the Aquino administration. His life as a fugitive is being glamorized and he is millions of pesos richer for it,” he said.

“Mancao, who has risked everything–life, honor, family–has remained living the life of a miserable prisoner, who cannot earn a living, away from family and friends, without livelihood and liberty and neglected by the state that had initially sought his help,” the lawyer lamented.

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