Thursday, July 23, 2009

(UPDATE) Mancao: I took orders from Erap

MANILA - Former police officer Cezar Mancao on Wednesday told a Manila court that he directly took orders from former President Joseph Estrada as he testified for the first time in connection with the double murder of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and driver Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000.

A radio dzMM report said Mancao was emotional when appeared before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 18 of Judge Myla Garcia-Fernandez.

The report said that, according to Alex Avisado, spokesman and lawyer of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Mancao broke into tears after seeing for the first time in several years his colleagues in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF).

Avisado said Mancao told the court that he was directly taking orders from Estrada.

“The only material admission to his affidavit was that he [Mancao] declared in open court that when he was Task Force Luzon chief, he was directly reporting to former president Estrada,” said Avisado later in an interview in ABS-CBN News Channel’s Top Story.

The radio report said the testimony was interrupted by the motion for inhibition of Avisado and another lawyer for the jailed suspects in the double murder case.

The lawyers wanted Fernandez to inhibit from the case for her surprise ruling allowing Mancao to testify.

Reports said the court was supposed to hear Avisado's motion asking the court not to admit Mancao as state witness on the double murder case.

Instead of ruling on the motion, Fernandez ordered Mancao to take the witness stand. Reports said the move was to help the court decide whether it would allow Mancao to become a state witness and remain under the government's Witness Protection Program.

In ordering Mancao to take the witness stand, Fernandez asked for the presence of the 9 policemen and civilian agents arrested for the double murder case.

The nine suspects include Senior Police Officer 4 Marino Soberano, Senior Police Officers 3 Mauro Torres and Jose Escalante, Crisostomo Purificacion, Digo De Pedro, Renato Malabanan, Jovencio Malabanan, Margarito Cueno and Rommel Rollan.

The radio report said that, according to Avisado, Mancao cried as he approached and hugged his former men. The report said the nine suspects were Mancao's former operatives when he was Task Force Luzon commander of the PAOCTF.

Mancao was scheduled to testify again before Judge Fernandez on August 13.

Mancao named Lacson and Estrada in the double murder case in his February 2009 affidavit which he executed in United States.

Avisado said however that the Arroyo government was only opening up the Dacer-Corbito case again to hit Lacson as well as Estrada.

We hope that justice will be for the deserving. we know that Sen. Lacson will be cleared, they are just using the case for political propaganda… Also against former president Erap to spoil his chances in next year’s presidency [race],” said Avisado.

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