MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson on Saturday criticized Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for her "ill-advised legal opinion" that the manhunt against him will continue until the court lifts his arrest warrant in connection with the Dacer-Corbito double murder.
"While I submit that the case dismissal is not yet final, as it may still be reconsidered by the same Court of Appeals division or can be reversed by the Supreme Court following proper legal rules and procedures, the same ruling clearly nullified the warrant of arrest which De Lima wants to defy by ordering to continue the manhunt," Lacson said in a statement.
De Lima said on Friday that the manhunt against Lacson has not been called off because she believes that the arrest warrant issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 18 is still "subsisting" despite the Court of Appeals' (CA) decision clearing Lacson in the murders in 2000 of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito.
In an 80-page resolution, the CA's 6th Division granted the petition for certiorari (review) and prohibition filed by Lacson to annul and set aside the lower court's orders dated February 4, 2010 and July 23, 2010 finding probable for the issuance of warrants of arrest against the senator.
Lacson has been in hiding since January 2010.
"I and my family have suffered long enough for a crime I did not commit. I appeal to her (De Lima) not to confuse the public with her flawed and ill-advised legal opinion," the senator said.
Lacson said that only the same CA division and the Supreme Court can reverse the nullification of the warrant of arrest and "not any of the lower courts of the land and certainly not the secretary of justice."
He added: "Secretary Leila de Lima should stop using brute reason in interpreting the Court of Appeals ruling dismissing the case against me which she claimed she has not even read."
In a separate statement on Saturday, Lacson's lawyer, Alexander Poblador, cautioned the Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies from implementing the arrest warrant.
"If he (Lacson) decided to come out and they arrest him on the basis of the warrant that has already been set aside, we will file cases against the authorities and the DOJ," Poblador said.
He said charges of arbitrary detention may be filed against the officials of the DOJ and law enforcement agencies if Lacson is arrested.
De Lima said the arrest warrant is lifted only if the CA clearly said in its ruling that the setting aside of the arrest order is final and executory.
Poblador said that even if the CA's ruling is still subject to a motion for reconsideration, the junking of the warrant of arrest should take effect immediately.
Citing Rule 39, Section 4 of the Rules of Court, he said judgments in actions for injunction "shall be enforceable after their rendition and shall not be stayed by an appeal taken there from."
The lawyer added that Rule 117, Section 5 of the Rules of Court provides that the quashing of the information (murder complaint) is immediately executory unless there is an order to file new information.
"In the case of Senator Lacson, there is none," Poblador said. -- with a report from Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News