MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ending nearly 4 years as a fugitive, former police officer Cezar Mancao II surrendered to the police on Monday, January 30, Camp Crame said.
Macao is now under the custody of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Senior Superintendent Belli Tamayo said on Wednesday, February 1.
Previously detained for the 2000 murder of public relations veteran Salvador “Bubby” Dacer, Mancao escaped from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) detention center in May 2013.
Mancao faces murder charges over the killing in 2000 of Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito. His co-accused, former police officer Michael Ray Aquino, was ordered released by a Manila court in December 2012.
He had previously testified against Aquino, their former commander Senator Panfilo Lacson, and Superintendent Glenn Dumlao, now the head of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group.
Mancao, Aquino, and Dumlao all served under Lacson at the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force and later as PNP chief under the Estrada administration.
Mancao and Aquino fled the country shortly after the charges were filed against them under the Arroyo government.
Mancao returned to the country in June 2009 and was immediately placed in government custody. He was transfered to NBI custody in January 2012.
Mancao had testified that Lacson, Aquino, and Dumlao were behind the killing of Dacer and Corbito. His testimony helped strengthen the murder charges filed against the 3.
But the court eventually dismissed the case against them.
Mancao, in a radio interview as a fugitive in 2015, later cleared Lacson of any involvement. He dropped hints at wanting to surrender, but then justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima imposed conditions – for him to “come clean.”
Forgive but not forget
Lacson, for his part, said he has already forgiven Mancao. He added it is the latter’s “prerogative” to surrender.
“He has been arraigned at di pwede umandar ang kaso unlike in my case where I fled and did not surrender, but I did not get out of the criminal justice system. So it would do him well ngayong nag-surrender siya, para ma-resolve ang kaso either way,” Lacson told reporters in an interview.
“I am not hoping for him to be acquitted, I am not also hoping for him to be convicted. Sabi ko nga, matagal ko na siya pinatawad as I have forgiven all my detractors noong araw. Marami-rami yan. Kung napatawad ko iba why not Cezar Mancao? But I always maintained, I cannot forget their names,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Leila de Lima said she does not discount the possibility that Mancao, like the convicts from the New Bilibid Prison, would also testify against her. De Lima also urged Mancao not to allow himself to be used.
“That’s not at all an impossibility. Under the rate that this administration is doing, anything and everything within its powers para lang ipatupad yung gusto ng Pangulo na siraan ako talaga (just to implement the President’s wish to destroy me). I’m prepared always for the worst now. Alam ko naman na hindi pa tapos yan eh,” De Lima said.
“Wag sya magpagamit. Now kung meron na namang may pakana dyan para lang uli gamitin sya dahil nga yung mga una nilang plano, puro naman palpak… you know? baka nga, I don’t know. I really dont know. Alamin muna natin ano yung rason kung bakit sya nag-surrender,” she added.
(Don’t let himself be used. Now, if there are forces who are planning to use him, like their earlier plans which have failed, you know? Maybe, I don’t know. I really don’t know. Let us first know why he surrendered.) – with reports from Camille Elemia/Rappler.com