MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Former police officer Cezar O. Mancao II, detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila for the 2000 murder of Salvador “Bubby” Dacer, has escaped.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed the news in a text message. Asked about reports that Mancao had escaped, De Lima said: “Yes.”
Mancao escaped at around 1:40 am Thursday, May 2, and was captured in a CCTV image by the bureau, NBI Deputy Director Reynaldo Esmeralda said in an interview with ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel.
He was supposed to be transferred to the Manila City Jail today, after the Manila Regional Trial Court ordered him moved from NBI detention.
The order was released Tuesday, April 30, but was not immediately carried out because Wednesday, May 1, is a holiday.
De Lima said preliminary investigation shows that two NBI guards helped Mancao escape. De Lima said she was able to contact Mancao and told him to surrender within the day.
The justice secretary added Mancao does not want to be transferred to Manila City Jail because he is not safe there, saying he will “get killed” there. He said he will call De Lima again within the day.
Esmeralda described the CCTV footage, saying it showed Mancao walking out of his cell alone, carrying a bag. It is possible that someone was already waiting for him outside.
Mancao left a note in his cell, asking the NBI not to remove his things from the room without an inventory, and that he is a “victim of injustice.”
The two guards assigned to monitor Mancao will be charged by the agency, Esmeralda said. A manhunt for Mancao is now underway, he added.
NBI director Mariano Rojas told ANC that “heads will roll” following Mancao’s escape.
Mancao faces murder charges over the murder 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.
Mancao and Aquino fled the country shortly after the charges were filed against them. Mancao arrived in the country in June 2009 and was immediately placed into government custody. He was transfered to NBI custody in January 2012.
The two are former deputies of Sen Panfilo Lacson when he was head of an anti-crime task force under the Ramos government and then became chief of the Philippine National Police. – with reports from Purple Romero/Rappler.com