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DoJ claims 2 more witnesses to Dacer murder

By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:23:00 03/14/2009

Filed Under: Crime, Crime and Law and Justice, Murder, Personalities, Joseph Estrada

MANILA, Philippine ? Two civilians have come forward claiming knowledge of the double murder of publicist Salvador ?Bubby? Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2000, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said.

At a news forum Friday, Gonzalez quoted the two civilians as saying they collected the wood used to burn the bodies. Authorities later recovered the charred remains in a remote village in Indang town in Cavite province, outside Manila.

Gonzalez backed the credibility of the persons offering new information on the twin killings in anticipation of former police senior superintendent Cesar Mancao?s extradition from the United States and the disclosure of the contents of his affidavit purportedly implicating prominent persons.

?They are the ones who gathered the firewood for the burning of the bodies. I don?t think these are the revelations of clowns,? Gonzalez told a news forum at the Ambassador Hotel in Manila. ?I don?t think these two civilians who are unheralded ? who just came to me, are clowns.?

Sen. Panfilo Lacson ? Mancao?s superior at the Philippine National Police and the Presidential Anti-Organized-Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) in 2000 ? earlier said Malacaang had started ?sending in the clowns? with allegations of his supposed involvement in the Dacer-Corbito murders.

Lacson?s remark was prompted by former police intelligence chief Reynaldo Berroya?s own avowed intention to testify before the reconvened panel of the Department of Justice when it starts reviewing the case.

?Very credible? affidavit

?Well, when the hearing opens, that?s when we judge,? Gonzalez said of the credibility of the witnesses who had signified intention to testify before the reconvened panel.

The justice secretary earlier ordered the reopening of the case in anticipation of the extradition of Mancao, who is among the 22 charged with the double murder.

Gonzalez, who claims to hold a copy of Mancao?s affidavit, told reporters that it would link five persons to the crime.

?It is very credible and can be corroborated,? he said of the affidavit.

There is speculation that members of the opposition, notably Lacson and Joseph Estrada, who was the Philippine president at the time of the murders, are named in the affidavit. Both men have denied involvement in the killings.

Gonzalez said the details of Mancao?s return to the Philippines would be confidential to ensure his safety.

The contents of his affidavit will only be revealed to the media when the new preliminary investigation has started, Gonzalez said.

The justice secretary said he had also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to track down a police official surnamed Arnedo and a driver in connection with the double murder.

?Estrada is not mentioned?

Berroya, now the general manager of the Metro Rail Transit, said there was no mention of the involvement of Estrada in the killing of Dacer and Corbito.

Berroya based his claim on the affidavit of former Senior Supt. Glenn Dumlao, another of those charged with the double murder.

He said Dumlao had also told him verbally that the killings could not have happened without Lacson?s knowledge.

?Estrada was not mentioned in the killings, and I don?t think it is in his character to order somebody killed,? Berroya told the Inquirer when reached by phone last night.

Berroya and the deposed President are former archenemies. They patched things up on Estrada?s release from house arrest in 2007, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pardoned him a month after his conviction of plunder.

The bad blood between Estrada and Berroya began when the former, then the Vice President and head of the PAOCTF, sent the latter to jail for the 1993 kidnapping of Taiwanese businessman Jack Chou.

Berroya did time at the New Bilibid Prison for two years before he was released on Dec. 12, 1997.

Among the officials cited in Dumlao?s hand-written affidavit are Mancao and his former colleague in the PAOCTF, Michael Ray Aquino, Berroya said.

Aquino is also a respondent in the double-murder case.

Berroya was the PNP intelligence chief when Dumlao surrendered to the police a few months after the Dacer-Corbito killings and voluntarily submitted an affidavit.

Free to talk

Malacaang on Friday distanced itself from Berroya?s decision to testify on the double murder.

?Berroya is free to say what he feels to say even if he?s a government official. His being an official has nothing to do [with it]. We can?t prevent him from expressing his views,? Undersecretary Lorelei Fajardo, President Arroyo?s deputy spokesperson, said at a news briefing.

Fajardo scoffed at speculation that the government was using Berroya to implicate certain personalities in the double murder.

?Definitely, we?re not using Berroya,? she said. ?It?s only now that he has come out and said he?s willing to testify. We don?t even know what Berroya knows about the case.?

Berroya?s ?statements are independent, and the Palace has nothing to do with anything that he wants to say,? Fajardo said.

She also said certain personalities should not clear themselves of involvement in the Dacer-Corbito murders even before they could be officially implicated, lest they be accused of guilt.

?No one should confess because Malacaang has not accused anybody of involvement in the crime,? she said. With reports from Jocelyn R. Uy and TJ Burgonio

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