MANILA, Philippines — After 15 years of unsolved mystery, a glimmer of hope emerged as former Police Senior Superintendent — and now fugitive — Cezar Mancao II told the media Sunday that he is planning to surrender to the authorities to tell the truth behind the murder of Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and Emmanuel Corbito.
Mancao, a former intelligence officer, was also one of the accused in the double murder case. He was also considered as a government witness to shed more light on the case.
Since escaping from custody in 2013, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been hunting Mancao. But on Sunday, February 8, Mancao faced select members of the media to air his intention of surrendering, spilling the truth, and mending old ties.
To the media, Mancao apologized to those he implicated in the Dacer-Corbito murder: former Senator and Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson and former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada. He also apologized to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima for using up man hours and resources to hunt him down.
‘Come clean, tell the plain and naked truth’
In a text message to reporters as posted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, De Lima said, “I hope that if Mancao does in fact resurface, he comes clean this time. He must tell us the plain and naked truth about that still unresolved mystery which is the Dacer-Corbito murder case.”
De Lima emphasized that this is “the only way for Mancao to redeem himself” after losing his credibility due to his “flip-flopping” and “contradictory testimonies.”
According to De Lima, representatives of Mancao got in touch with her and she informed them that he will not be given the liberty of dictating the terms of his surrender.
She said people representing Mancao had contacted her, and that she had sent word back to him that he will not be allowed to set the terms of his surrender.
“I relayed the message that if he really wants to surrender to me, my condition is for him to come clean this time and not waste our time,” De Lima said. “And his surrender must be on my own terms, and not his. As a fugitive, he cannot be dictating the terms.”
De Lima pointed out that whether or not Mancao pushes through with his surrender, “the NBI shall continue to hunt him down since he’s a fugitive from justice.”
“… [H]e has to contend with the criminal case wherein he remains to be an accused. He must face the trial squarely and prove the innocence of those truly innocent and the guilt of those truly guilty,” De Lima said.
On forgiveness and Pope Francis
In several radio and television interviews, Mancao said that he decided to finally come clean and make amends because he was moved by Pope Francis and touched by the Pontiff’s presence during the Papal Visit in January.
Mayor Estrada, feeling vindicated, was happy about Mancao’s statements. But he also said that Mancao should face any charge that will be filed against him.
“He should tell the truth. We don’t know, he might have been framed or something. He should face the charges against him,” Estrada said.
Estrada continued, “It’s good that the truth finally came out,” adding that he has already forgiven Mancao even before the latter apologized.
“I’m a very forgiving person. I’ve forgiven many people who have done me wrong,” Estrada said. “We all make mistakes… It’s good that Pope Francis has touched him.”
Despite being strongly implicated in the double murder case, Estrada said that he could not even imagine ordering the murder of Bubby Dacer, who was his kumpare. Estrada said that they are godfathers of each other’s children.
Lacson was also said he has already forgiven Mancao and everyone who involved him in the double murder, whose names he will never forget.
“Surely, I know all those who committed incriminatory machination, even subornation of perjury by the assigned prosecutor herself and I will never forget their names,” Lacson said.
Despite fleeing the country for over a year to escape arrest, Lacson said he has something to be thankful for after everything he went through.
” In a way, I thank them for letting me know who my true friends are,” Lacson said.
Lacson also said in spite of Mancao’s “weak character,” the latter’s statements confirmed what he has known from the start.
“At least he makes clear what I’ve already known since the start of my ‘calvary’ that the minions of the former President ganged up on him to do me in. Why? I can only presume that my incessant exposés against the previous administration’s abuses against the Filipino people had everything to do with it,” Lacson explained.
Lacson was referring to his exposés against the anomalies that happened during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency, including alleged money laundering by First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.