MANILA, Philippines?She might just hunt him down herself.
Feisty Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday she was now going to be ?hands- on? in the search for fugitive Senator Panfilo ?Ping? Lacson, a former police general who is among those charged in the murder of a well-known public relations man almost 10 years ago.
?I'll be hands-on from now on in this effort to track down Senator Lacson. Before, I would just be asking for updates from the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation]. Now I have decided to be hands-on,? De Lima said in a press conference at the Department of Justice in Manila.
She said that as justice secretary she was ?supposed to be really in charge of this.?
?We are the prosecutors. We know there is an outstanding warrant of arrest and we are trying to uphold the law. There is a warrant of arrest that should be respected, implemented, because it's not good for our justice system that warrants of arrest are not seriously regarded,? De Lima said.
Asked what prompted her to be more directly involved in the search for Lacson, De Lima replied, ?It's more because, you know, there has been a substantial passage of time and without [the implementation of the] warrant of arrest, it shows helplessness and even inefficiency in enforcement.?
De Lima earlier admitted on Tuesday that the authorities' inability to locate Lacson had left her ?very embarrassed.?
Lacson quietly slipped out of the country in January after a Manila court judge issued an arrest warrant for him after his name was added to the list of those accused in the murder of publicist Salvador ?Bubby? Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.
Lacson claimed the previous Arroyo administration included him among the respondents in the double murder case following a series of exposes he made against former President, now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
De Lima will meet Friday with the NBI and the Philippine National Police?s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to discuss how the government could step up its manhunt for the elusive senator, including the possibility of offering reward money to any informant who could lead the authorities to his whereabouts.
De Lima warned that people who may be coddling Lacson in the country would also face charges.
?It's almost unthinkable that he's able to evade arrest without any aid from any party, individual, group, allies, supporters, associates. It's almost unthinkable unless he is really very good at hiding... If he's inside the country and people are aiding him, they should also answer for that. They can be charged as accomplices,? she said.