he family of Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Sunday asked President Beningo Aquino III to cancel the arrest warrant issued against the fugitive senator and for a review of the double murder case where he stands as the principal suspect.
Lacson's office issued a statement, quoting the senator's son, Ronald Jay Lacson, who said that with the warrant of arrest issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 18 suspended his father can return safely to the Philippines.
"We are not asking the Aquino administration to absolve my father. We would just like to ask for the suspension of the warrant against him while the case is being reinvestigated," the younger Lacson said.
The Lacson family made the appeal even if the Manila court already junked Lacson's motion seeking a review of the case by the Department of Justice. The court also sustained the arrest warrant against Lacson.
"The Motion for Reconsideration dated 10 February 2010 filed by Senator Lacson is likewise denied for lack of merit. Hence, the warrant of arrest issued by this court against him shall stand," the court ordered on July 23.
Legal sources interviewed by GMANews.TV said a president can neither void a standing arrest warrant nor reverse a court order. In this case, only higher courts such as the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court can overturn the ruling.
In criminal cases like the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, the President can only revoke a conviction by granting an absolute or conditional pardon or executive clemency.
Arrest warrants are covered by the judicial branch of government. If the President revokes or suspends an order, he will encroach on judicial powers.
Lacson is accused of masterminding the abduction and killing of veteran publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, on Nov. 24, 2000. At the time, Lacson headed the Philippine National Police and the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force, the unit that allegedly carried out the twin murders.
He fled the country on Jan. 5, 2010, two days before the Department of Justice – then headed by Agnes Devanadera – filed two counts of murder against him before Branch 18. A month later, on Feb. 5, the court issued an arrest warrant against Lacson.
On Sunday, Lacson's family said the DOJ's investigation was biased and that the filing of charges against him was part of the political persecution by the previous administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Lacson had exposed several anomalies implicating Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo.
"We maintain that the charge against my father is a form of political vendetta from the previous administration and were based on flawed and selective appreciation of facts. Every day that this flaw is not corrected is not only injustice to my father, but to us his family, as well," the younger Lacson said.
The family also claimed that the pieces of evidence Lacson submitted to the DOJ were disregarded by the prosecutors handling the case "even though such (pieces of evidence) glaringly prove that (Lacson) is innocent."
On Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs cancelled Lacson's regular and diplomatic passports on the grounds that he is a "fugitive from justice" as provided by the Philippine Passport Act of 1996.
The family decried the DFA's supposed haste in revoking the passports, saying the department disregarded the letter submitted by Lacson's lawyers also on Friday.
In the letter, the lawyers argued that the "fugitive from justice" provision under the law is inapplicable because it refers to cancellation of an application for a passport, and not of the passport itself.
SOPHIA DEDACE, GMANews.TV