They will if Cezar Mancao II testifies in open court as to the existence of a conspiracy to kill P.R. man Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and that the instigator of such conspiracy was Senator Panfilo Lacson y Morena, alias “Ping“. But there has to be corroborative evidence and/or testimonies from other witnesses.
Eight years after the abduction and gruesome murders of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000, Dacer’s children sought yesterday the indictment of Sen. Lacson for the murders.
In a nine-page affidavit of complaint filed before the Department of Justice, Dacer daughters Carina, Sabina, Emily and Amparo said it was Lacson who â€œordered the killing of our fatherâ€ based on a recent affidavit executed by another principal suspect and alleged co-conspirator, former Police Senior Superintendent Cezar Mancao II, who is expected to be extradited from the United States on March 31. At the time of the killings, Mancao was working under Lacson in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), a special law enforcement unit then reporting directly to deposed President Joseph “Erap” Estrada. According to Mancao’s testimony given in in Broward County, Florida, where he is detained pending repatriation to the Philippines, he personally heard Lacson order former Police Superintendent Michael Ray Aquino, then operations chief of the PAOCTF, to kill Dacer sometime in October 2000. Aquino fled to the U.S. after things got too hot and is also presently facing extradition charges.
Lacson says the charges are “politically motivated”. But as Conrado De Quiros points out, everything and everyone in this country is motivated by politics.
If thereâ€™s evidence implicating him in the murders, then he should be prosecuted and, if found guilty, jailed for life. Whether the motive of the prosecutors is revenge, or retaliation, or pure spite doesnâ€™t matter. Where thereâ€™s crime, thereâ€™s punishment. Or should be.
But is there enough evidence to charge and possibly convict Lacson of the murders ? The settled rule is the testimony of a co-conspirator is sufficient to sustain the filing of murder charges. The Supreme Court has held held that “a conspiracy is more readily proved by the acts of a fellow criminal than by any other method” (Salvanera vs. People, G.R. No. 143093, May 21, 2007).
If it is shown that the statements of the testifying co-conspirator are corroborated by other evidence, then there would be convincing proof of guilt. Ordinarily, a single witness can bring about a conviction. But if the prosecution witness is a fellow conspirator, a so-called “polluted source” out to save his own neck, there has to be corroborative proof.
The settled rule is a defendant in a criminal action can not be convicted on the evidence of an accomplice only, and that to sustain such a conviction, there must be other evidence corroborating that of the accomplice, which tend to show the guilt of the defendant. (People vs. Lanas, G.R. No. 5086, May 25, 1953 quoting People vs. Asean, 53 Phil. 59, 67.)
So it’s far from certain whether Lacson will be convicted of the Dacer-Corbito double murders. The prosecution has to have something more in its arsenal than just the say-so of Mancao, although that in itself is damning. But if the Department of Justice runs true to form (which is to say corrupt and inept), Ping Lacson has little to worry about.
But this case is almost sure to go to court, and it will prove to be interesting.
Already the Lacson camp has resorted to delaying tactics. Michael Ray Aquino, who has remained loyal to Lacson, has sought to delay the extradition of Mancao on the ground that the latter has to testify in his (Aquino’s) extradition case pending before the US District Court of New Jersey in Newark.
What is intriguing is that Lacson has hinted that Erap might be involved in the killings. As reported in the Inquirer , Lacson said in a phone interview: â€œKung mayroong kinalaman ang mga tao ko, hindi naman ako ang pinakamataas na opisyal.â€ [If my men were involved, I wasnâ€™t the most senior official.]
Although Earp was implicated in the Mancao affidavit, the allegations against him are hearsay. It would be interesting to see if Lacson would now turn against his former boss.