Senator Ping Lacson Haunted By Old Ghosts

Not so old, as ghosts go.

During the last few days of the Estrada administration, Erap’s enforcers were on desperate killer mode, and were out to silence those they perceived or knew to be threats to the dying administration. One of them was public relations man Salvador “Bubby” Dacer, who at some point or another did P.R. work for Erap and presumably knew where some of the skeletons were buried. There were indications that the public’s anti-Estrada sentiments were about to reach a flash point, and that Dacer was about to spill the some very damaging beans. Dacer was a survivor, having served many politicians before, some on opposing sides. He knew when to ride the changing political tides.

Well, he didn’t survive then PNP Chief Panfilo Lacson’s aides. According to reports, Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito, were abducted in broad daylight in a busy street in Makati and brought to Cavite, where they were killed and their bodies burned. Months later, amidst frantic efforts by their families to look for them, their charred remains were found near a creek bed and identified through dental records and personal effects. By then, Erap Estrada had been kicked out of office and Panfilo Lacson was reinventing himself as a politician.

Now, nearly eight long years after the twin killings, two top aides of ex-PNP Chief Lacson, former police Senior Superintendents Cesar Mancao and Glenn Dumlao were arrested in the U.S. for their direct role in the murders. Both had fled abroad when the case got hot, but the proverbial long arm of the law was not to be denied. Lacson refused to comment on the arrests.

Say what you will about Ping Lacson, but during his days as a police official, he knew where his bread was buttered and was fanatically loyal to his bosses, and ultimately, to the boss of all bosses, President Estrada. He knew when and how to jump ship, of course, or he wouldn’t be where he is now. But not until he had done what was asked or expected of him. He was a pro, and so were his key people, who, like him, were all graduates of the Philippine Military Academy.

Mancao and Dumlao are expected to contest their extradition but they will ultimately come home to face the music. And a lot of the evidence leads to Lacson’s doorstep.

Lacson may have been able to avoid liability for his conduct as a cop and presidential heavy and even prosper, by hitching his political star to Erap. But not so his lieutenants and underlings. Recall what happened to Leandro Aragoncillo and Michael Ray Aquino, who in the end were left twisting in the wind. Both are rotting in U.S. prisons.

The question is, are Mancao and Dumlao going to be stand-up guys, knowing what happened to their colleagues ? Dumlao, in particular, seems inclined to sing.

In an affidavit executed on June 12, 2001, at the PNP Intelligence Group Office in Quezon City, which was apparently furnished the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Group (ICE) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Dumlao described in detail his participation and that of Aquino and Mancao in the murder of Dacer and Corbito. ICE effected the arrests of Dumlao and Mancao pending extradition proceedings partly on the basis of the damning affidavit.

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