MANILA— Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has hinted that Sen. Panfilo Lacson may be hiding in the Philippines.
De Lima made the statement after meeting with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and assessed the case of the fugitive senator who has been tagged in the killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.
Lacson reportedly fled abroad when the charges were filed against him.
Early this month, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile ordered the closure of the office of Sen. Lacson in the Senate and the stoppage of the payment of his salary and benefits, including that of his staff.
De Lima, meanwhile, scrapped the plan to form a special task force to hunt Lacson but favored a cash reward to any informant who can give any information that could lead to the arrest of the opposition lawmaker.
De Lima said there is no need for a special task force to track down Lacson as both the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) have already pooled their resources together to make the search for one of the alleged masterminds in the 10-year-old Dacer-Corbito abduction murder case much easier.
She added that the proposed task force’s job will only duplicate the function been done by the regular law enforcement agencies, and will end up inefficient in the long run.
De Lima said she is open to giving informants those information can lead to the immediate capture of Lacson a P2 million cash reward.
But this still has to be approved by Department of Interior and Local (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo.
The DILG, together with the DOJ, is one of the lead agencies in the ongoing hunt against Lacson.
“I still have to consult this (proposed cash reward) to Sec. Robredo,” De Lima stressed.
She also expressed belief that Lacson is not out of the country as earlier speculated as cancellation of the latter’s passports are still to bring in concrete information regarding his whereabouts.
”You cannot be too sure that Sen. Lacson is outside of the country. But right now we do not know whether he is inside or outside of the country. The reason why I said that (is because) we cannot rule out that possibility that he is within the Philippines because nothing is happening despite the cancellation of his passport,” De Lima pointed out.
She also said that she cannot dismissed the possibility that the senator is hiding in a country.