DOJ not giving up on nailing Michael Ray Aquino
The justice department will file a motion for reconsideration with the Manila regional trial court (RTC) that dismissed the double murder case against former police officer Michael Ray Aquino, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.
De Lima said this was the decision made by the panel of prosecutors handling the case of Aquino who was charged with the 2000 murder of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito.
“I am not sure when exactly it can be filed. My instruction though is to file it asap,” De Lima said in a text message.
De Lima had asked Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to convene the prosecutors panel to discuss what the Department of Justice (DOJ)) should do about the Wednesday ruling of the Manila RTC Branch 18 that caused the immediate release of Aquino.
The court dismissed the case against Aquino for lack of evidence. Aquino walked out of the National Bureau of Investigation jail that same night.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, De Lima said she was surprised by the court’s decision.
She said she has yet to see a copy of the decision and could only speculate that Aquino was ordered released because the court did not accept the testimony of Cezar Mancao, who had implicated Aquino in the Dacer-Corbito killings.
She pointed out that the Court of Appeals had also reversed the findings of the DOJ of probable cause against Sen. Panfilo Lacson on grounds that it did not accept Mancao’s testimony.
De Lima said the panel of prosecutors will discuss whether it will question the court’s ordering Aquino’s immediate release.
Aquino was implicated by Mancao, his colleague in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), whose top officials, including Lacson, were accused of committing the murders.
After fleeing the country and hiding for 10 years in the United States, Aquino was extradited to the Philippines in June last year to face the murder charges to which he had pleaded not guilty.
But when he was in the United States, Aquino also spent time in jail for alleged espionage. He was accused of illegally accepting US secret documents said to be stolen as part of a plot to overthrow then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.