Monday, February 7, 2011

The art of the perfect rubout

The testimony of one police officer pinning down the principal accused of one of the primary victims’ families (the Dacers) has been debunked by a second round of judicial determination by the Court of Appeals’ Sixth Division — a body that some lawyers say has a very checkered reputation.

That division’s judgment was based on its claimed “contradictions” in police officer Cezar Mancao’s testimony, despite the prosecution’s assertion that his initial statements were committed under duress while the final ones were freely and, therefore, truthfully executed. After considering from a layman’s point of view the arguments of both sides, I believe that the court was within bounds to have made that judgment.

Reconsideration and elevation to higher courts by the prosecution will certainly be in the offing; but it’s beginning to look like this murder mystery may just end as a cold case. After all, the defense will simply raise the issue of corpus delicti, which, in the now perfected art of the rubout, will probably never be produced at all.

Some fear that if Lacson is acquitted, the focus of attention will shift to President Joseph Estrada. For a while, I had this concern, too, knowing the many elements that have consistently and indefatigably subjected the former President to character assassination. This is especially true in light of the many US operatives who haven’t forgotten the slight to their country’s hegemony by Estrada’s campaign against US military bases, as well as his rejection of former President Clinton’s demand for a stop to his government’s determined moves against MILF and Abu Sayyaf operations in Mindanao.

For sure, the public mind is one that’s never comfortable with any vacuum. Once left with a Lacson acquittal, it will seek other personages to fill that void. But I have a No. 1 suspect. Not only is he well-connected to police and military assets, but a key piece of information that no one else wants to touch, the revelation of Fr. Baldostamon as told through Bishop Teodoro Bacani’s columns years ago, still rings loud.

Admittedly, the last remaining element that could be used against President Estrada in the Dacer-Corbito double-murder is Michael Ray Aquino. A theory being bruited about says that some forces may be dangling before Michael Ray a possible release from his iron-clad US prison cell for a return to the very slack justice system in the Philippines — provided that he points to Estrada as having given the direct orders.

This is a theory that Lacson himself insinuated in his speeches at the Senate to divert attention from himself at the height of the Dacers’ legal offensives. Lacson’s problem is that few, if any, believe him. To make matters worse, he (of the “Be Not Afraid” fame) eventually absconded, took flight, and gave the impression that he is indeed guilty.

Lacson’s few remaining supporters argue that the senator faced real mortal threat if he chose not go underground. For a while there, Lacson’s fear seemed justified, especially when the specter of his sworn enemies, Gloria and Mike Arroyo (who reportedly spent huge sums to build the case against him), still loomed large.

But what else can the public make today of his continued refusal to submit to the law when there now sits a more Lacson-friendly government? And this, despite repeated assurances from his colleagues, such as Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, of his protection under the Senate’s ambit.

Some say that Lacson was just buying time to “settle matters” with the courts. If this is to be believed, then he was clearly successful. But it will take a whole lot more to erase that impression of guilt, if it can be done at all.

Obviously, I am not ready to swallow that latest court decision. I prefer to keep the public wary of the potential of rogue cops who have perfected the art of the rubout and of other rogue police networks continuing to make their pile, exacting revenge, or creating politically-turbulent situations.

The recent murder-cremation of the car dealers is an example. After seeing the illogical pieces of the puzzle — from an inexplicable motive to the apparent burning of vehicles to remove evidence while leaving behind a trail of IDs and the quick link to an identifiable suspect — don’t these all smack of a rogue operation that’s intended to distract and destabilize for a multitude of reasons?

I also prefer to keep the public wary of hoodlums in robes as we’ve had enough of them in the past year alone. All these wouldn’t have been as evident if Lacson never took flight; now we are better informed.

The Michael Ray Aquino threat I have brought up may just be a phantasmagoric fear. After all, it would be his word against the others. Further, admitting to be the most guilty is neither going to be likely nor necessary for him, as dentures can be replicated. So far, it still seems to be a “perfect crime” as there is no corpus delicti. With acid being the preferred “eraser,” the blank space can be easily sketched upon by rogue cops and courts.

Meanwhile, let’s go to the vital issue of the day: Mang Naro Lualhati and lawyer Mel “Batas” Maurico are presenting their opposition to the P92-billion Performance Based Rate (PBR) pricing scheme of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) later at 2 p.m. We are mobilizing to present as many consumers at the Pacific Center Bldg., San Miguel Ave., Pasig City in support of their petition — this as Meralco sends lawyers to prop up the ERC commissioners. Please join us. Text me at 0917-8658664 on how to join.