Lacson's escape to avoid arrest expected, says Dacer's daughter

- Sandy Araneta -

MANILA, Philippines - One of the daughters of slain publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer yesterday spoke out about Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s escape.

Karina Dacer said Lacson’s escape to evade arrest was expected.

“When the news came out that Sen. Lacson left for Hong Kong last Jan. 5, just days before the Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the filing of murder charges against him for my father’s and (driver) Emmanuel (Corbito)’s murders, I was not surprised,” she said in a statement read by her lawyer Demetrio Custodio.

Karina said she initially dismissed the reports of Lacson escaping, noting the statements of his lawyers that he was just around.

But in the past week, she found out that Lacson’s lawyers are lying and trying to cover up for the senator.

“For our family, (Lacson’s escape) was puzzling because he was given all the remedies in court and he had all the opportunities to respond. He had the Senate floor which he used last year to tell the world that he has information on a number of issues and personalities,” she said.

The Manila Regional Trial Court last week ordered the arrest of Lacson as the principal accused in the murders of Dacer and Corbito in November 2000.

Manila RTC Branch 18 Judge Myra Garcia-Fernandez issued the warrant for the arrest of Lacson about a month after the DOJ filed the murder charges against the senator for allegedly masterminding the killing of Dacer and Corbito.

Lacson released a statement admitting his escape from the country to avoid what he called “harassment” by the Arroyo administration.

Karina said Lacson should have taken the opportunity to face the courts to deny his involvement in the murders.

Karina said Lacson used the media and the Senate and yet refused to appear before the court to clear his name.

“It is indeed very puzzling,” she said.

“Our family has the following message to the senator. In your privilege speeches, you talked about a lot of exposés related to other people and they had no opportunity to respond. Yet you were given all the remedies and opportunities the judicial system can give you but you decided to flee. Your reason for fleeing the country is that you fear for your life.

“The former head of police and a senator fearing for his life? It was indeed very surprising.”

Karina called on Lacson to come out and answer the charges in court and not hide behind the excuse of political persecution.

“Please stop hiding behind the now tiring reason that the case against you is a politically motivated persecution or that the administration has a plot to harass and harm you,” Karina said.

“This case is not about you. This case is about the lives of two people that were taken. This case is about all the lives destroyed by the murder of my father and Emmanuel. This case is not about you or your politics!” Karina said.

Karina also dared Lacson to prove that he was not involved in the murders.

She said Lacson did not even take the initiative to reach out to their family following the murders.

“If you really wanted to help, you would have found a way. Last year you finally wanted to sit down and talk to us. Why the change of heart? Was your move also politically motivated? Your fleeing the country is an insult to our judicial system and to all branches of the government,” she said.

In the same statement, Karina urged the next president to hold Lacson accountable for his actions.

She said Senators Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Richard Gordon have both suffered the loss of their fathers in a brutal manner.

To former President Joseph Estrada, Karina said, “Please stop telling the world how close our families are because as you very well know, our families are not close.”

She said if their families were close, Estrada would have helped them immediately when their father was abducted in 2000.

“Yet, to this day, you have offered no information or assistance. If you really were close to our father, give us the information that will give justice for his death,” Karina told Estrada.

Karina also lashed out at politicians justifying the flight of Lacson.

“I can only say that your sadness cannot compare to the sadness we felt when our father was mercilessly strangled and burned in Cavite. You have no idea how much our lives were destroyed. You have no idea what sadness is,” she said.

Most wanted

Custodio read Karina’s statement during a news conference of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) which launched a wanted campaign against Lacson.

In a bid to put more pressure on Lacson, the VACC distributed wanted posters with photos of the senator and the captions “Wanted: Panfilo Lacson, Criminal Case 10-272905-06” and “Double Murder Case.”

Custodio joined the group in putting up the posters on trees, lampposts and walls along Roxas Boulevard, particularly near the Grand Boulevard Hotel where casino video operator Edgar Bentain was kidnapped in 1999.

Jimenez said Lacson was also behind the disappearance of Bentain.

“First, the arrest of Sen. Lacson should be made swiftly and soon. Authorities should step up their manhunt. I do not believe politics had anything to do with the impending arrest of the senator. It is simply justice catching up with him at last,” Jimenez said.

Authorities began the global manhunt for Lacson soon after the senator fled.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has requested the International Police (Interpol) to place Lacson under its Red Notice list, which would prevent Lacson from leaving the country where he is now hiding since immigration and other authorities in the host country would be alerted.

NBI Interpol chief Claro de Castro said they are awaiting the approval of their red notice request in France.

When asked about the possibility that Lacson may have returned through the country’s backdoor, De Castro said the NBI is still checking this out.

“We are not discounting the possibility,” De Castro said. – With Michael Punongbayan, Artemio Dumlao, Eva Visperas

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