Lacson's Schengen visa expires soon–NBI

July 18, 2010 11:50 am 

MANILA, July 17 –Amid reports that the Schengen visa of Senator Panfilo Lacson will soon expire, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director lawyer Magtanggol Gatdula alerted the NBI Interpol Division for possible imminent progress on his search.

Gatdula ordered the NBI Interpol Division under lawyer Claro de Castro Jr. to open its line to the country’s counterparts, especially in Europe.

While there was persistent report that Lacson managed to slip back to the country, the NBI said the report was not yet validated.

Lacson is facing two counts of murder before the Manila regional trial court in connection with the Nov. 2000 killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

He earlier claimed that he was politically persecuted by the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

As his Schengen visa will expire soon, Lacson’s movement will be more limited and could not just jump from one border to another border in Europe easily. Lacson is now in the Interpol’s red notice.

The Schengen visa can be used in 25 European countries. “A holder of Schengen visa allows him to roam around 25 European countries like Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, etc. The continued stay in these countries using expired Schegen visa will hold the holder liable for violation of Immigration laws so it limit Lacson’s movement,’ said the NBI source,”

Apart from this, Lacson faces difficulty in jumping from one border to another because he is in the Interpol red notice.

An Interpol Red Notice is the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today. Interpol (the International Criminal Police Organization) circulates notices to member countries listing persons who are wanted for extradition. The names of persons listed in the notices are placed on lookout lists (e.g., NCIC or its foreign counterpart). When a person whose name is listed comes to the attention of the police abroad, the country that sought the listing is notified through Interpol and can request either his provisional arrest (if there is urgency) or can file a formal request for extradition.

Gatdula earlier said the last tracking of Lacson was in Rome but said the search for the senator all over the Philippine has already started.

“Our line with the Interpol remains open. But the search for the senator here in the Philippines is now on-going,” Gatdula said.

Gatdula said Lacson will be detained in a regular detention facility or jail along with other detainees and not to anywhere else.

He said the holding room which used to house former police Sr. Supt. Cezar Mancao III and former police Supt. Glenn Dumlao, both of the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Task Force (PAOCTF) at the NBI main office, was already converted to office.

“Our law says the accused should be detained at the nearest jail,” he said.

Gatdula also denied reports that a special jail is now being prepared inside the NBI main office compound for Lacson once he is arrested.

He insisted that he will not give Lacson a “special” detention cell despite the fact he is the senator of the Philippines .

"We would follow the recent declaration of the president that all the government agencies should implement level playing field and give justice to all,” he said.

Thus said Gatdula in response to the apprehension on how he would deal the case since he used to be a subordinate of Lacson during the time of defunct PAOCTF.

Gatdula also said the case was already in the hands of Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina, of the Manila regional trial court (RTC) Branch 32 and it would be up to the court to decide on the merit of the case.

He also noted that if Lacson surfaced, the NBI would serve the warrant of arrest on him. “If he surfaced, he (Lacson) will be arrested, there’s a warrant issued by the court.

“Our hope is for the senator to surface para naman magkaroon ng period ang Dacer-Corbito case. There will be no whitewash as the case is already being heard in court. Wala na sa NBI iyan,” he said.

Lacson left for Hong Kong on Jan. 5, this year, just few days before the Justice Department recommended the filing of charges against him for the killing of Dacer and Corbito in November 2000.

Former Judge Myra V. Garcia-Fernandez, of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 18, issued warrant of arrest last Feb. 5. Fernandez was promoted as Court of Appeals Justice and Medina took over the hearing of the case on order of the Supreme Court.

The DOJ gave credence to the affidavit submitted by former police officer Cezar Mancao III, the physical evidence gathered from the crime scene and affidavits of other witnesses which have already been presented as part of the evidence of the prosecution against other accused who are now under trial at the Manila RTC.

Mancao, in his affidavit, accused Lacson as the one who ordered the execution of Dacer and his driver under the Oplan Delta.

The justice department recommended no bail against Lacson and stressed that the senator cannot invoke parliamentary immunity from arrest and detention as it is only applicable for crimes punishable below three years.

Lacson may be sentenced to a maximum of life imprisonment under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code if found guilty.

Aside from Lacson, some 21 former policemen and civilian agents of PAOCTF have been charged before the Manila RTC in connection with the Dacer-Corbito case. (PNA) RMA/JES

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