MANILA, Philippines?More than eight years have passed but the Dacer-Corbito murder story never seems to run out of twists.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson Sunday claimed that former Senior Supt. Cezar Mancao II?the man who had linked him to the double murders?had told him as far back as last year that he (Mancao) would recant whatever statements he would make against the senator, thus boosting his presidential bid in 2010.
?Mancao said lalaruin niya (he?ll play along) but at the end, he would recant his statements,? Lacson told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, recounting what he said his former aide told him in a phone conversation in January 2008.
?Pangbawi mo, makakatulong sa 2010 (That would be your way of getting back at them, that will help you in 2010),? Lacson quoted Mancao as telling him.
The senator?s disclosure of the purported phone conversation was the latest in his efforts to batter down allegations that he was involved in the November 2000 double killing of public relations man Salvador ?Bubby? Dacer and the latter?s driver, Emmanuel Corbito.
In an affidavit he executed in the United States in February, Mancao claimed that he overheard Lacson order a trusted aide, former Senior Supt. Michael Ray Aquino, to kill Dacer and that Lacson also ordered him (Mancao) to cover up police involvement in the twin slayings.
Lacson told the Inquirer that Mancao also assured him in their January 2008 talk that he would not give in to supposed offers made to him by a military general in exchange for implicating the senator in the Dacer-Corbito case.
Lacson forwarded to the Inquirer what he said was Mancao?s text message to him dated Jan. 4 last year showing the supposed pressure being brought to bear on Mancao to drag Lacson into the case.
?Ur ryt sir,? the text message said. ?I was hoping I can contribute something 2 propel u at the end. Rest assured of my loyalty. I will desist the temptation. Sleep soundly sir.?
At that time, Mancao was a free man and living in Florida. He is now set to be extradited from the United States so he could face the double murder case in the Philippines.
Lacson said Mancao?s text message to him was prompted by a phone conversation they had that same day.
Toy with the gov?t
The senator said Mancao had called him to tell him that the military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Romeo Prestoza, had offered to reinstate him to the police force or resettle his family in Singapore in exchange for implicating Lacson in the murders.
Lacson said that at one point in the conversation, Mancao suggested that he would toy with the government but later recant his statements so the case would blow up on its face.
He said he advised Mancao against doing it, telling him to stick to the truth that they had nothing to do with the murders.
He said Mancao apparently heeded his advice because he texted him later with the message that he would not give in to the supposed offers made to him.
Asked if ?lalaruin? meant that Mancao would implicate him first, Lacson said: ?Yes, that was how I understood it when Mancao said that.?
Asked why he had kept Mancao?s text message for more than a year and sprang it only now, Lacson said: ?I kept it in the folders feature of my cell phone thinking I might be able to confront Prestoza with it when he faces the Commission on Appointments for his confirmation to the next rank.?
Lacson said the last time he tried to find out what had happened to Mancao was when he called Mancao?s wife Maricar on Jan. 20 this year.
He said he merely asked what happened to the extradition hearing of Mancao but was told by Maricar that it was postponed.
?Maricar told me that her husband did not want their children brought to jail and that he was crying,? Lacson said.
Lacson maintained that Mancao was pressured to execute the affidavit.
In a text message later Sunday, Lacson told the Inquirer that he had not intended to use Mancao?s Jan. 4, 2008, text message ?against his interest.?
?But I am compelled to bring it out in order to counter other forces that have taken advantage of his predicament and his weakness to use him against me,? he explained.
?It pains me that a friend and a former subordinate has turned against me even to a point of sacrificing the truth,? Lacson said.
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sunday said the case against those involved in the Dacer-Corbito murders remained strong despite the refusal of a former policeman who had worked for Lacson as a driver to back up Mancao?s affidavit.
Gonzalez said former Sgt. Reynaldo Oximoso?s statements seemingly refuting Mancao?s claim that he was riding with Lacson in the car when he heard Lacson order Dacer?s killing would not affect the justice department?s case.
?It would be good if (Oximoso) would cooperate but if he will not, there is no difference,? Gonzalez said on the phone. ?As far as I?m concerned the case remains strong.?
Mancao said in his affidavit that he was in the front passenger seat of Lacson?s car when the then Philippine National Police chief gave the order to Aquino while the two were talking at the back.
Oximoso said at the weekend that he did not recall Mancao ever seating beside him in the car and he did not recall the conversation that Mancao claimed to have heard.
The National Bureau of Investigation team sent to the United States to fetch former police Supt. Glenn Dumlao is coming home empty-handed.
Lawyer Ric Diaz, chief of the NBI antiterrorism division, told the Inquirer that he had received information that the hearing on Dumlao?s court petition questioning his extradition would not be heard until this week.
?The (NBI central office) advised us to come home,? Diaz said by telephone from the United States where a team of agents had been waiting to pick up Dumlao as early as last week.
Dumlao has executed statements supposedly jiving with Mancao?s affidavit.
Dumlao questioned his extradition a few days before his scheduled return to the country, saying US authorities should release him after holding him for more than 60 days supposedly in violation of the rules on extradition.
?Definitely, (Mancao) would come home before Dumlao does,? Diaz said, suggesting Dumlao?s petition would take some time to be resolved.