Cezar Mancao to surrender? Clears Lacson, Erap

MANILA, Philippines – Fearing he might end up dead like top terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir or "Marwan", former police officer Cezar Mancao II on Saturday, February 7, hinted at surrender and finally facing the charges against him over the 2000 murder of publicist Salvador "Bubby” Dacer.

"Ayaw ko magaya ni teroristang si Marwan na namatay sa medyo nagtatago, (I don’t want to end up like Marwan who died while in hiding)," Mancao said in a dzBB interview Saturday. Marwan was killed during the January 25 operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao which also left 44 elite cops dead.

Mancao escaped from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in 2013 before he was even transferred to the Manila City Jail. He faces charges over the murder in 2000 of Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

Pope Francis effect

But what changed his mind after two years of hiding? Mancao said it was Pope Francis’ message of mercy and compassion during his Philippine visit last January which "touched" and "enlightened" him.

"Bago may mangyaring masama, masabi ko at makahingi ng kapatawaran sa taong nasagasaan ko...ito na siguro ang tamang panahon,” Mancao said in the radio interview. (Before anything bad happens to me, I want to apologize to the people I harmed. I think this is the right time.)

He quickly added he would still "test the waters" to see what "assurances" the Department of Justice (DOJ) and NBI can offer.

Apologies

In another radio interview with dzMM Saturday, Mancao also said he has "no personal knowledge" of the involvement of former senator Panfilo Lacson and former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada in the case. 

He said he had no choice but to follow the past administration’s orders to implicate the two.

"Ganun na nga po (ginigipit nila ako). Dahil ho sa takot ko sa buhay ko at sa banta na may mangyaring masama sa akin," he explained. (They pressured me. [I did it] because I feared for my life and because of the threats that something bad might happen to me.)

He first apologized to former Senator Panfilo Lacson for "destroying his name and reputation." (READ: Mancao hits Lacson, fears for life)

Mancao had testified that Lacson and his former police aides Michael Ray Aquino and Glenn Dumlao were behind the killing of Dacer and Corbito. His testimony helped strengthen the murder charges filed against the 3.

But in 2011, the Court of Appeals, declaring Mancao an "incredible and unworthy witness" due to contradicting testimonies, dismissed the case against Lacson. In December 2012, a Manila court also ordered the release of Aquino from the NBI.

Mancao on Saturday praised Lacson as a "responsible, sensible, fearless, incorruptible leader." He also apologized to Estrada for “disrespecting” him, and to Secretary Leila de Lima, who leads DOJ and the NBI.

Mancao said he was aware that government has spent a lot of resources just to locate him. – Rappler.com