July 30, 2010
MANIL — A Manila regional trial court judge has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to find and bring fugitive Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson back to the country. The court order came after Lacson’s motion for reconsideration (MR) seeking to cancel the warrant of arrest issued against him for two counts of murder was denied. Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina junked the senator’s motion to cancel the warrant of arrest. However, the judge threw the ball to the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) whether to cancel or not Lacson’s passport.
Lacson, who is facing two counts of murder in connection with the November 2000 abduction and killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito, had earlier claimed that he was politically persecuted by the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The court likewise denied the Motion to Cancel the Philippine passport of the accused that was filed by the camp of Dacer.“The NBI and the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs are directed to take proper steps in order that Senator Lacson, who is alleged to be out of the country, may be brought back to the Philippines pursuant to the warrant of arrest issued by this court so that he can be dealt with in accordance with law,” said the 15-page joint order of Judge Bunyi-Medina.
Medina sustained the earlier decision of then Judge Myra Garcia-Fernandez, former presiding judge of Manila RTC Branch 18, to issue a warrant of arrest against Lacson last Feb. 4. She ruled the court did not found any compelling reason to deviate from its previous findings contained in the order.
Medina was designated by the Supreme Court (SC) to take over the case after Fernandez was promoted as associate justice of the Court of Appeals (CA). She also declared that the senator’ arrest warrant is valid, citing the existence of probable cause. The court likewise denied the Motion for Reinvestigation filed by the camp of Lacson, citing the motion to be unmeritorious. “It may cast doubt on the impartiality of the proceedings of the Department of Justice should the court order it to conduct a reinvestigation,” said the court.
“Having all these in mind, this court finds no cogent reason to exercise its discretion of ordering a reinvestigation of these cases which jurisprudence dictates should be sparingly wielded,” the court added. It can be recalled that newly-installed NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula alerted the NBI Interpol Division on reports that the Schengen visa of Lacson will soon expire. The NBI Interpol Division under lawyer Claro de Castro Jr. was directed to continue to open its line to the country’s counterparts, especially in Europe, according to a bureau source. As his Schengen visa will expire soon, Lacson’s movement will be more limited and could not just jump from one border to another border in Europe easily. Lacson is now in the Interpol’s red notice.