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Lacson last seen in China, says NBI source

The website of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) bears information on Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

MANILA, Philippines - Fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson, tagged as the mastermind in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, was seen in China bound for Macau sometime last January, a source from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said yesterday.

“Panfilo Lacson DOB (date of birth) 060148, Passport No. DP0001469 left Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, China on Jan. 18 for Macau by car,” a text message from the NBI source yesterday read.

It was not known, however, if Lacson was still in Macau.

No other details were given by the source.

NBI spokesman Edward Villarta and NBI Interpol Division chief Claro de Castro Jr., however, said they have yet to verify the information.

“We are just waiting for the verification. There is no information yet where Lacson is. All the Interpol member countries are alerted. We are still waiting,” said De Castro.

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“The last information we received (is that) he was in Hong Kong on Jan. 5. I just learned about that information (that he left China for Macau) now,” added De Castro.

De Castro said Lacson’s warrant of arrest only came out last February, and that was the only time Interpol member countries checked on the records of his entry into their countries.

“It is easier for us to look for him in the Philippines than with Interpol member countries abroad since it would also depend on their (counterparts’) cooperation. Finding someone in a foreign country is difficult. For example, if he enters the US, I don’t know if they could still find him there. It’s not that easy since the US is big,” he said.

The NBI has been less forthcoming with information after news broke out that they actually knew where Lacson was.

NBI Director Nestor Mantaring immediately allegedly appointed Villarta as the new NBI spokesman, replacing Ricardo Diaz, who was demoted to deputy spokesman and sent to Mindanao on an operation to make him less accessible to the media.

Diaz was supposedly too open with media.

Mantaring and Villarta, however, denied that Diaz was demoted.

The other day, Lacon’s lawyer Alex Avisado said he and the other lawyers have not communicated with the senator. They denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of their client.

Lacson’s lawyers from the Poblador Bautista Reyes law firm filed a motion for reconsideration last Thursday, asking Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Myra Garcia-Fernandez to reconsider her Feb. 4, 2010 order directing the NBI, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation Division Group (PNP-CIDG), Manila Police District (MPD), Pasay Police and other officers of the law to serve the warrant of arrest against the senator for the crime of double murder.

No bail was recommended for Lacson.

His lawyers also sought the dismissal of the instant cases upon a judicial determination that probable cause does not exist.

They also asked Fernandez to voluntarily inhibit from the case to erase any doubts on her neutrality and impartiality, particularly in resolving their Motion for Reconsideration, as the judge has recently been recommended by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for promotion to the Court of Appeals.

While they maintained that the instant cases against Lacson were part of political persecution by the administration, the lawyers said there is just and valid reason for the voluntary inhibition of the judge in hearing the cases and in resolving the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Lacson.

Publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito were taken at gunpoint on Nov. 24, 2000 along South Superhighway. Their remains were found days later in Cavite.

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