It’s final: SC clears Lacson in ‘Kuratong Baleleng’ case

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Panfilo Lacson is finally free from the long shadow of the Kuratong Baleleng case of 1995.

The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed with finality a 2003 ruling of a Quezon City court dismissing the multiple murder case against him and others tagged in the killing of 11 members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang during an alleged rubout in 1995.

In a two-page resolution released yesterday, the high court dismissed the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by the prosecution panel handling the case through the Office of the Solicitor General last December.

The SC held that the “basic issues raised (in the MR) have been passed upon by the Court and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision.”

The SC stood by its ruling promulgated last Nov. 13, 2012 that upheld the decision of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 81 Judge Ma. Theresa de la Torre-Yadao junking the charges for lack of probable cause.

As in the previous voting, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio inhibited from the case due to “prior inhibition in related cases.”

Lacson was implicated in the case, being then the head of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) whose men gunned down 11 members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang on May 18, 1995 along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

The group alleged that it was a rubout, while the police insisted it was a shootout.

Justices of the high court were again unanimous in finding that Judge Yadao did not commit grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the case.

“The Court agrees with Judge Yadao that the affidavits and reports (presented by prosecution), taken together with the other documents of record, fail to establish probable cause against the respondents,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Roberto Abad.

The SC also said that there was nothing wrong in the move of the RTC to examine the inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses presented by the prosecution, contrary to the claim of petitioner.

“The prosecution conceded that their own witnesses tried to explain in their new affidavits the inconsistent statements that they earlier submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman,” the high court stressed.

The SC had said that it would have not ruled on the merits of the case, citing a technical ground – petitioner’s failure to follow court procedures on appeal by filing their petition for certiorari directly with the SC when it should have been filed before the Court of Appeals first.

But it explained that the “immense public interest in these cases, the considerable length of time that has passed since the crime took place, and the numerous times these cases have come before this Court probably warrant a waiver of such procedural lapse.”

Also cleared in the case were then National Capital Region command Chief Superintendent Jewel Canson, then traffic management command chief Senior Supt. Francisco Zubia Jr. and then criminal investigation command head Chief Supt. Romeo Acop.

Former PAOCTF officials Senior Supt. Michael Ray Aquino, Supt. Cezar Mancao and Supt. Glenn Dumlao, who were also allegedly involved in the November 2000 killings of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito, were also absolved in the case along with 27 other accused.

Records showed that it was the second time the RTC ruled on lack of probable cause to indict the accused for 11 counts of murder.

In March 1999, the trial court, then presided over by Judge Wenceslao Agnir Jr., ordered the provisional dismissal of the cases following recantation of witnesses led by SPO2 Eduardo de los Reyes and desistance of private complainants.

The case was only revived in March 2001 when the Department of Justice reinvestigated the cae based on affidavits of new witnesses, Inspector Ysmael Yu and Senior Inspector Abelardo Ramos.

The DOJ then re-filed the case against Lacson and the others before the RTC three months later.

Lacson heaved a sigh of relief after learning of the SC decision.

“Thank God all my woes under GMA are finally over,” he said, adding that his woes started shortly after former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office in 2000. – With Christina Mendez


vuukle comment











  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with