JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday confirmed that fugitive Senator Panfilo Lacson has sent surrender feelers to certain individuals, now that he felt more comfortable in shedding light to the still unresolved November 2000 murder of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.
Lacson was tagged as one of the suspects, if not the mastermind, in the Dacer-Corbito murders, and was subsequently charged with two counts of murder.
The case was later on consolidated with the pending double murder cases filed against several PAOCTF members before the Manila regional trial court.
Two days before the filing of the case in court, Lacson flew to Hong Kong via Cathay flight CX-904. He remains at large, although his lawyers are seeking a reinvestigation of the case. A warrant has been issued for his arrest while the Interpol was already alerted for his capture.
In a press briefing, De Lima would not disclose the name of the person to whom Lacson sent his surrender feelers, saying these matters are confidential in nature that she would have to personally discuss with President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
She maintained that Lacson's whereabouts are still unknown to the authorities since the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) lost track of him from his last known location in Rome, Italy, as she dismissed speculations that the senator was just right in the country somewhere, hiding.
"(The feelers were sent) not to me directly. That is part of the confidential discussion I had with (NBI Director Nestor) Mantaring. I will have to discuss certain things with President Noynoy based on the other confidential matters that I got from Director Mantaring," she said.
De Lima gave assurance that once Lacson surrenders, no preferential treatment will be given to him and he will be treated like an ordinary accused being escorted by the NBI to attend trial.
As for the supposed request of the lawyer of Lacson to conduct a reinvestigation of the case, De Lima said that it is something that she would still have to discuss with state prosecutors in charge of the case.
"If they intend to file a petition (to reinvestigate) then we will take a look at that, and of course study that before we make any action. Let's see kung ano ang magiging grounds nila sa petition for reinvestigation," de Lima said.
She noted that Lacson's decision to return to the fold of the law is not surprising considering he has repeatedly stated publicly and in his pleadings that he does not expect to attain justice during the Arroyo administration, being its staunch critic.
With the new administration now in power, De Lima said it was highly possible that the senator now felt he would be able to come to his defense without fear of prejudice.
"He was accusing the previous administration of bias against him because he did expose some anomalies against the First Couple then. Ngayong may bago nang administration, maybe may tiwala na siya sa fair administration of justice. But he has to go through the process dahil wala ring dapat special treatment ngayon. We should be insulated from political consideration."
Shortly before his flight from justice, Lacson had thrown his support to Aquino's campaign for the presidency, and against that of his former boss, former President Joseph Estrada, who was also being linked to the Dacer-Corbito murders.
Meanwhile, NBI Director Nestor Mantaring said they do not see any need at this time to investigate the Lacson's staff at the Senate who supposedly communicated with the senator recently when he issued a statement about the pork barrel of legislators.
Mantaring said an investigation on Lacson's staff would just be an exercise in futility since they would only deny the solon's whereabouts.
He added that they could not also be charged for harboring the criminal because they only received the phone calls from Lacson.
The NBI also turned down a suggestion to track down the senator by tapping his telephone lines, saying that this is illegal and unconstitutional. (JCV/Sunnex)