MANILA, Philippines — Senator Gregorio B. Honasan II, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, advised on Friday his “mistah” (fellow Philippine Military Academy graduate), Sen. Panfilo Lacson, to surrender and submit himself to the country’s judicial processes.
Saying that he prays for the safety of his comrade-in-arms while he is in hiding, Honasan said that Lacson has to face the reality that he has to present himself before the courts.
The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) had issued an arrest warrant for the killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, in Cavite in 2000.
Lacson reportedly left the country just before the issuance last Jan. 4 of the warrant of arrest.
Honasan, who at one time had been a fugitive while trying to evade arrest following three failed coup attempts against the administration of then President Corazon C. Aquino in the mid- to late-80s, said he is not surprised that Lacson could make himself scarce from the hands of law enforcement officials.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima herself had admitted that she is ashamed because of the failure of law enforcement officials to place Lacson under arrest.
Some say Lacson had left for Hong Kong last January and is now reportedly in the country as Philippine authorities have asked the help of the International Police in tracking down the senator.
Lacson was the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief during the latter part of the Estrada administration.
Honasan conceded that government’s resources are thinly spread out that it has difficulty in looking for him.
He pointed out that Lacson’s style of having a minimal support group works in his favor as it does not draw attention to anyone trying to look for him.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile earlier said that Lacson has to come out and defend himself.
Enrile, however, stressed that continued hiding from authorities is Lacson’s discretion to protect himself from probable harm.
As a lawyer, Enrile said the pieces of evidence thus far against Lacson are weak.
Enrile, a former president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), said he is certain he could have Lacson acquitted on the double murder charges if he were to handle Lacson’s defense panel.
If the courts allow, Enrile said the Senate is ready to take Lacson under its custody so that the senator could resume his task and responsibility as a lawmaker.
Enrile stopped early this month Lacson’s salary and the maintenance of his (Lacson’s) office after the Commission on Audit (CoA) questioned the signing of Lacson’s salary and those of his office and staff although the senator is not physically present to sign those financial documents.
Mario Casayuran, Manila Bulletin