CA denies Mancao plea to be cleared in Dacer-Corbito case
MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals has denied former police officer Cezar Mancao II’s plea to be acquitted of the murder charges filed against him and several others in connection with the 2000 abduction and murder of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and driver Emmanuel Corbito.
The Court’s Ninth Division, in a decision released Friday, denied Mancao’s petition for certiorari that sought the reversal of the order by the Manila regional trial court that rejected his demurrer to evidence, a type of motion seeking to have the prosecution’s evidence against an accused declared insufficient, leading to his acquittal.
The demurrer to evidence is allowed under Section 23, Rule 119 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure to hasten a criminal proceeding.
The appeals court said it could not reverse the RTC order since denials of demurrer rested entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court.
“In light of the cold text of the caveat in the last paragraph of Section 23, Rule 119, to the effect that the denial of the motion to file the demurrer or the demurrer itself will be legally impermissible prior to judgment, we were constrained to decline any further exegesis on the adequacy of the People’s evidence. Necessarily, rejection of the current petition for certiorari will be the logical consequence,” the court said in a six-page decision written by Justice Eduardo Peralta.
The last paragraph of Section 23 states, “The order denying the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence or the demurrer itself shall not be reviewable by appeal or by certiorari before judgment.”
Citing previous Supreme Court rulings, the appellate court added that it could not review, through certiorari proceedings, the prosecution’s evidence and decide in advance that such evidence has or has not established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
The other members of the division, Justices Magdangal de Leon and Stephen Cruz, concurred in the ruling.
Mancao is currently a fugitive following his escape from the National Bureau of Investigation in May 2013, shortly after the RTC rejected his request to be admitted as state witness.
Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, former police officers Glenn Dumlao and Michael Ray Aquino used to be suspects in the double murder case. Lacson was cleared by the Court of Appeals in 2011 while the case against Aquino was dismissed by the Manila RTC in December 2012.
Aquino and Mancao used to serve in the now-defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force that Lacson headed.
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