National Bureau of Investigation agents have been scouring eastern Metro Manila for two days but have found no trace of the slippery fugitive Cezar Mancao II, though he has made himself available for TV, radio and print interviews.
The manhunt for the escaped suspect in the Dacer-Corbito murders took the agents on Thursday and Friday to Green Acres subdivision in Cainta, Ever Gotesco Mall on Ortigas Extension, Madison Square in Greenhills, Pioneer Street in Mandaluyong City, Le Gran Hotel in San Juan City and places along Sumulong Highway in Antipolo.
They raided motels and what they believed were safe houses in Quezon City and Carmona, Cavite, and areas near the metropolis where the signal of Mancao’s cell phone had been monitored but they did not find the former police officer who escaped from his cell at NBI headquarters early on Thursday.
The Inquirer managed to reach Mancao by phone late Saturday and learned that he was running ahead of his pursuers because he was receiving information from friends.
Mancao did not answer the Inquirer’s question whether it was true that NBI agents missed him by minutes in Bulacan on Friday night, but said his pursuers would never get him.
“They are just wasting their time and resources, they won’t find me,” Mancao said. “What they will spend in looking for me is better donated to the victims of Typhoon ‘Pablo’ in Compostela Valley.”
Mancao is from Compostela Valley and he is running for a seat on the provincial board in the midterm elections on May 13.
“Just like Ping Lacson, I will not surrender,” Mancao said, referring to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who was also accused in the Dacer-Corbito case but went into hiding before he could be ordered arrested. Lacson returned in 2011 after the Court of Appeals threw out the charges against him.
“I will surface only after the court issues a decision favorable to me,” Mancao said.
“Like Senator Lacson, I will only surface after the injustice done to me has been corrected,” Mancao said, referring to his being treated as an accused in the case instead of as a government witness.
The former police senior superintendent is fighting a court decision to reject his request to be allowed to serve as a state witness.
Losing state protection
His request having been rejected, he now stands to lose government protection and faces detention in the Manila City Jail.
The court ordered Mancao’s transfer to the city jail on Tuesday and he was supposed to be moved there two days later. But he received information about the order and escaped after 1 a.m. on Thursday.
Mancao telephoned news organizations to say he escaped because he received information that he would be killed once he had been transferred to the city jail.
He said Lacson, whom he had implicated as the mastermind behind the murders in 2000 of public relations executive Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, was behind the plan to get him killed.
Lacson refused to comment on Mancao’s allegation, but said he had long forgiven his former protégé for implicating him in the case and that he had no interest in him.
“I am better off as a fugitive now, though I hope I will not be pursued as a hardened criminal,” Mancao said. “I also did good things for my country by fighting criminality.”
He said he hoped his pursuers would give up the search for him.
“I hope they will lay off, because though I am not a hardened criminal, I will not hesitate to fight if I see that my pursuers intend to harm me,” he said.
Reynaldo Esmeralda, NBI deputy director for intelligence services, admitted in an interview that capturing Mancao was proving difficult for the bureau.
“It’s a big challenge because he knows what we are doing and he is also trained for this thing,” Esmeralda said. “But we have a job to do. We are bent on getting him back.”
The Department of Justice ordered the manhunt for Mancao intensified, but said nothing about a reward for information that would lead to the former police officer’s capture.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters yesterday that he had no information about a bounty being offered for the capture of Mancao.
Mancao’s freely talking to journalists has embarrassed law enforcers, but Lacierda said the government could not compel reporters to share their knowledge of Mancao’s whereabouts.
Lacierda acknowledged that journalists are bound by ethics, but said the government would like to get information from journalists as “assistance” for the search for Mancao. With a report from Michael Lim Ubac
First posted 8:37 pm | Saturday, May 4th, 2013