Manila, Feb. 23, 2003 -- The son of former Assemblyman Arturo Pacificador was allowed on Friday by the Canadian Supreme Court to remain in Canada despite pending murder charges against him in the Philippines, the Toronto Star reported this week.

Rodolfo Pacificador is wanted in the Philippines for the 1986 murder of former Antique Gov. Evelio Javier.

Pacificador's lawyer, Phil Campbell, said his client will likely be allowed to stay in Canada.

Campbell was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying, "He's hopeful, I'm hopeful." Campbell also said he doesn't think the Canadian Immigration Department will go against the court rulings. "They are constrained by the legal findings that have been made."

Upon his arrival in Canada in 1987, Pacificador began a protracted fight through the Canadian legal system and spent seven years in detention, the Toronto Star said. According to the report, Pacificador was "at one point... the longest -serving prisoner in the Don Jail" before his release on bail in 1998. He was taken into custody in 1991 and ordered deported in 1992.

Pacificador and his father were accused of involvement in the Javier slay and they fled to Canada in 1987 after a failed coup against the administration of then President Corazon Aquino.

The elder Pacificador was a close ally of deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos and turned himself in on March 1995. He was tagged as the mastermind behind the assassination.

He is now in jail with others accused in the Javier slay, namely lawyer Avelino Javellana, John Paloy, Henry Salaber, Ramon Hortillano, Rolando Bernardino, Eleazar Idemne, Jimmy Punzalan and Henry and Jose Seguerra.

Another of the Pacificadors' co-accused, Eduardo Iran, alias Boy Muslim, is still at large. Iran was allegedly the main triggerman in the Javier assassination and served as a sergeant of the Philippine Constabulary (PC).

The elder Pacificador and Javellana were ordered detained at the Antique provincial jail on Jan. 24 last year and they were incarcerated on Feb. 4, 2002.

According to the newspaper report, "the Canadian government acknowledged the 'weaknesses and inconsistencies' in the evidence against Pacificador and agreed that long delays in bringing a co-accused to trial in the Philippines raised concerns about the case."

The Canadian Justice Department, however, felt Pacificador's extradition to the Philippines was justified and appealed the ruling before the Ontario Court of Appeals.

The Ontario court, however, "found no evidence to dispute Pacificador's allegations of political manipulation and ruled that extraditing him would expose him to a legal system whose conduct 'shocks the conscience' and violates his rights under the Charter of Rights," the Toronto Star reported.

Javier was the campaign manager of Aquino, who had run against then President Marcos in the Feb. 7, 1986 snap elections.

He was at the Antique plaza overseeing the canvassing of the snap election votes at 10:45 a.m. on Feb 10, 1986 when six armed men in fatigues and camouflage clothing alighted from a white Nissan Patrol that stopped in the plaza fronting the Antique provincial capitol in Antique.

Two of the armed men opened fire on Javier with M-16 assault rifles, hitting him in the back. Javier fled and the gunmen chased him around the plaza, finally cornering him inside the restroom of a shop owned by Leon Pe, 100 meters from where he had been standing when they opened fire.

Javier's assailants shot him repeatedly. When Javier's body was recovered, it was riddled with 24 bullets.

The Javier murder trial began in 1987, but was suspended in 1989 after the Philippine Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on claims that the judge handling the case was biased in favor of the defense.

In 2000, then President Joseph Estrada ordered then Justice Secretary Serafin Cuevas to move for a speedy trial of the Javier case.

Last year, President Arroyo promised a speedy trial of the Javier case during her visit to Antique on Javier's 16th death anniversary.

Javier's son, Francis Gideon, now 34, said justice would be served if at least five of the accused the Pacificadors, Javellana, Iran and Hortillano were brought before the bar of justice. (Star)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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