What Went Before: Suspects in Dacer, Corbito murders
MANILA, Philippines–The Court of Appeals denied last August a petition by fugitive former police officer Senior Supt. Cezar Mancao II to be absolved of the murder charges in the 2000 abduction and killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito.
Dacer and Corbito were abducted on Nov. 24, 2000, at an intersection in Makati City. Their charred remains were found in April 2001 by a creek in Cavite and identified by forensic experts from dental records and personal items.
In May 2001, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed double murder charges against Michael Ray Aquino, chief of operations of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) which was then headed by former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and other PAOCTF officers, including Mancao.
On June 4, 2001, Senior Supt. Glenn Dumlao, deputy chief for operations of PAOCTF-Luzon, was arrested. In his affidavit, he said former President Joseph Estrada and Lacson might have knowledge of the murders. Estrada and Lacson denied this.
On June 25, 2001, then Justice Secretary Hernando Perez cleared Estrada of involvement in the murders for lack of evidence.
Dumlao accused Aquino and Mancao, who were aides of Lacson, as part of the group that planned the murders.
Aquino and Mancao fled to the United States in July 2001. They were charged in absentia in September that same year.
Dumlao also fled the country in May 2003.
In May 2006, the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) ordered the arrest of Mancao and Aquino after finding probable cause to prosecute them and 18 others for the murder of Dacer and Corbito.
In 2008, Mancao and Dumlao were arrested in the US after the Philippine government requested their extradition.
In February 2009, Mancao executed an affidavit alleging that Lacson had masterminded the killings. He said that about a month before the murders, he heard Lacson tell Aquino, Lacson’s most loyal aide, to have Dacer killed.
Mancao’s affidavit prompted Dacer’s children to ask the DOJ to reopen the investigation and include Lacson among the accused.
Mancao arrived in Manila in June 2009 and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in the Manila court. He later agreed to turn state witness in the case.
In 2011, the Court of Appeals ruled that Mancao was an unreliable witness, citing inconsistencies and contradictions in his affidavits.
In January 2012, Mancao was removed from the Witness Protection Program and was turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation after the Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court ruling declaring him unfit to serve as a state witness.
“Under oath, he contradicted himself on material points. Inconsistencies and material contradiction affect the credibility of Cezar Mancao and the veracity of his statements,” the court said.
With the dismissal of his petition to be discharged as a coaccused, Mancao went back to being an accused in the case.
Mancao escaped from the custody of the NBI in May 2013 after he was discharged as a state witness in the Dacer-Corbito murder case.
Mancao was supposed to be transferred to the Manila City Jail on orders of Judge Carolina Icasiano-Sison of the 18th Branch of the Manila RTC, who granted the petition of four former police officers who are among the accused in the Dacer-Corbito case. He beat his transfer by escaping. Video from a security camera showed him casually walking out of the NBI building carrying a bag and wearing a baseball cap.
Lacson was cleared by the Court of Appeals in 2011. Dumlao became a state witness in 2009 and was dropped from the list of accused while the case against Aquino was dismissed by the Manila RTC in December 2012.
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