MANILA, MAY 5, 2013
(PHILSTAR) By Rey Galupo and Edu Punay - Fearful for his life and saying he was a victim of injustice, former police superintendent Cezar Mancao walked out of detention yesterday from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

“Please don’t remove my things without proper inventory. I am just a victim of injustice here. Thanks, Cesar Mancao,” read the letter Mancao purportedly signed and left on the table inside his cell. He said he suspected a political ally of President Aquino to be responsible for his suffering.

File photo shows former police superintendent Cezar Mancao at the Manila City Hall on June 30, 2009. EDD GUMBAN

Mancao is on trial for the murders of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2000.

President Aquino ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate how Mancao was able to slip out of detention at the NBI headquarters in Manila.

“The President instructed Secretary Leila to investigate the cause of his escape and to also hold accountable those behind it,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said at Malacañang.

NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas confirmed Mancao’s escape early yesterday morning.

Rojas said he alerted all NBI units nationwide to be on the lookout for Mancao while a full investigation is being made to determine the officials responsible for the escape.

“We have tasked our Criminal Intelligence Division to handle the investigation. His escape is a big slap to the bureau’s face,” Rojas said.

Rojas said two guards who apparently allowed Mancao to escape have been detained.

The two guards, identified as Pablo Remalante and Ibrahim Musa, were held for questioning.

Footage from a security camera showed Mancao calmly leaving his cell before dawn carrying a black bag containing his personal belongings, according to Rojas.

Mancao was reportedly seen on the security camera wearing a white T-shirt and a bull cap, going through the main gate of the NBI along Taft Avenue at 1:14 a.m.

The escape was discovered almost two hours later, officials said.

Investigators said Mancao apparently boarded a waiting vehicle outside. His cell was separate from the rest of the detainees and leads directly to the gas station and the parking area at the back of the NBI main office.

Mancao and another policeman, Michael Ray Aquino, were charged with murder in 2001 over the murder of Dacer and his driver.

The two accused were proteges of then-Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Panfilo Lacson, who headed the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), the group accused of carrying out the assassination on Dacer in November 2009.

Mancao had testified that Lacson, now a senator, ordered the killing because Dacer was seen as a critic of their political patron, then-President Joseph Estrada.

Lacson fled the country and went into hiding for about one year to avoid prosecution and only returned after he was cleared by the Court of Appeals.

However, authorities pursued the charges against Mancao and Aquino, who remains in jail.

Mancao tags Noy ally

Mancao, who has been in jail since 2009, then spoke with national television and radio stations to explain that he fled because he feared he would be killed in detention.

Mancao said a political ally of President Aquino was behind moves of the NBI, as well as judges and court officials, to close the case.

He claimed a top official of the NBI frankly told him that there is an “unwritten order” to push him against the wall.

“I reached the point where I could not take it any more,” he repeatedly said in the interviews.

Mancao recalled seeing “footmarks” inside his cell and also a “big man” lurking. He said he reported the incident to Rojas.

“Ipapatira nila ako (They want to kill me). They want to take revenge on me. Aantayin ko pa ba na tamaan ako ng bala (Should I wait for the bullet to hit me)?” Mancao said.

Asked who could be behind the efforts to bring him to jail and join other accused in the case, Mancao pointed to Lacson, whom he said wanted to “take revenge on me.”

Lacson, for his part, refused to comment on the escape of his former subordinate.

“I have no interest in him. His escape is his problem as well as that of his custodians,” Lacson said in a text message to reporters.

“Aside from that, I would defer any comment in the meantime,” he added.

‘I needed to do this’

Mancao, who was allowed to have a cell phone inside his detention cell, did not answer calls from NBI deputy director Reynaldo Esmeralda but reportedly sent a text message to De Lima saying, “I needed to do this.”

De Lima said she immediately called Mancao.

“He was apologetic. He said sorry for what he did. He repeatedly said he has no choice because he fears for his life – that he would be certainly killed once transferred to the city jail,” De Lima said.

“So I told him we can address his fear, but I demanded and urged him to surrender right away because running away would exacerbate his situation,” she added.

De Lima said she asked Mancao to consider the repercussions of his escape.

“I told him not to just think about himself because the DOJ and NBI – we will be held liable for this.”

She even volunteered to personally fetch him so he could feel safer, but Mancao asked for a few days to think it over.

De Lima said she did not grant Mancao’s request and gave him only until yesterday night to surrender. –Delon Porcalla, Christina Mendez, Evelyn Macairan

Mancao claims corruption in Witness Protection Program By Rey Galupo (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 6, 2013 - 12:00am

[Mancao told The STAR that he had proof regarding the corruption of WPP officials. He declined to give details of the alleged corrupt acts.]

MANILA, Philippines - Former police senior superintendent Cezar Mancao II yesterday slammed the Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ), saying it was riddled with corruption.

After being dropped from the coverage of the WPP, Mancao said he could now talk freely about the “corruption inside the program and how the witnesses under its protection are being treated.”

“There is a lot of money in the WPP but is there proper auditing of its expenses? The program should be reviewed. I saw everything when I was there but I couldn’t do anything. Kailangan kong makisama sa kanila (I had to go along with them). But now that I’m out, I might as well talk,” he said.

Mancao said he had the documents and saved the text messages he exchanged with officials of the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as proof.

He said there are only witnesses inside the WPP but there is no protection.

“People would see on television that a witness is heavily guarded when he is taken to the court to appear and testify but what they don’t see is that after the hearing we would separate on Kalaw Street and leave us to do our thing,” he said.

He added the places where witnesses were being held are unbearable. “That’s why I wanted to be placed at the NBI detention cell.”

There was a time, he said, when WPP and NBI officials “gagged” him during the confirmation hearings on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

He said officials told him to shut up on the possibility that he might offend Sen. Panfilo Lacson until De Lima’s appointment is confirmed.

“There were even times when witnesses are not allowed to speak, especially when the secretary (De Lima) is attending the budget hearing (in the Senate). I remember Attorney (Martin) Meñez denying my request to see a doctor… Emmanuel Mancao, who is my relative, for no apparent reason,” he said.

Mancao urged Malacañang to look into the WPP and see if its budget really goes to the program.

Mancao escaped early Thursday from custody of the NBI in a bid to evade his impending transfer to the Manila City Jail.

He was among those charged over the murder of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2001.

His bid to turn state witness in the case was turned down by the court that ordered his transfer to the Manila City Jail.

Fearing for his safety, Mancao escaped, claiming his transfer to the Manila City Jail would endanger his life.

De Lima recommended that Mancao be dropped from the WPP.

A waste of time and money

Putting up a bounty for his recapture is just a waste of money and effort, according to Mancao.

“It’s a waste of people’s money. There are other important things that the government should be looking into, other than a witness whose only desire is to preserve his life. Why are they so afraid that I am on the loose? Are they afraid that I would live to tell what I know?” Mancao told The STAR.

Mancao declared he will not allow himself to be recaptured and all efforts to locate him would be frustrating.

He said he is constantly moving and has been monitoring the situation from the “inside,” insinuating that he has an asset informing of government moves to recapture him.

Mancao, however, did not say if he was traveling alone but he was talking to someone while giving the telephone interview to The STAR.

He claimed he is “ahead of them and would only be reached by a helicopter now.”

The manhunt for the fugitive former police officer led NBI agents to different places in Metro Manila where his two cellphones have been monitored.

Pursuing NBI operatives have raided motels and have checked shopping malls and subdivisions east of Manila, Antipolo and Cavite for the past two days but failed to find Mancao.

“I am ahead of them by a mile. They won’t get me,” Mancao declared.

He said he would peacefully surrender if assured of fair treatment in the case.

“The Aquino administration could help if they want, but they don’t want to offend Lacson,” he said.

In 2009, Mancao surfaced to implicate Lacson, then national police chief, and former police senior superintendent Michael Ray Aquino in the murders.

Lacson went into hiding for a year until the Court of Appeals cleared him of the charges.

Mancao and Aquino remained as the principal accused in the case. Both have worked under Lacson in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), the group that allegedly carried out the murders.

Mancao described Lacson as being close to Malacañang.

“Where have you seen a witness who is now being hunted, and an accused public official who is now pulling the strings to make sure I’m dead,” he added.

NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar Roxas said capturing Mancao is not an easy task because of his training and experience as a police official.

“But we are doing everything to get him back. Obviously his escape is a big embarrassment to the bureau,” Roxas said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved