MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - He's back.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson finally resurfaced after leaving the country over 14 months ago to evade arrest when he was tagged as the mastermind in the Dacer-Corbito murder case.
Lacson arrived in Cebu City on Saturday aboard a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong. Flight CX 921 landed at the Mactan International Airport at 11:42 a.m.
He later flew to Manila in the evening. Authorities from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport confirmed that Lacson arrived via RPC 2711, a Baron-type, twin-engine plane.
The private plane landed at 6:40 p.m. and taxied to the General Aviation area, away from other airport terminals for commercial airlines and out of sight of mediamen.
Airport authorities said Lacson's son Allan and 4 escorts met the senator at the private hangar.
The senator will spend time with family, according to Gerry de Belen, a staff of Lacson.
Lacson reportedly went staight home to Ayala Alabang village in Muntinlupa City.
De Belen said Lacson will hold a press conference on Monday.
Lacson is expected to join his 22 colleagues at the Senate on May 9 when Congress convenes again.
The senators will act as senator-justices in the impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
The Aquino government, which is supporting the impeachment, needs a two-thirds vote from allies in the Senate for a guilty verdict.
Based on present political alliances, 7 senators are expected to support the Presdident's call to impeach. Lacson is being eyed as the 8th.
But in a statement on Saturday, Malacañang focused on Lacson's legal standing.
“We welcome the return of Sen. Ping Lacson so that he can put closure to the accusations hurled against him,” said Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
Unannounced but expected
Lacson's return was unannounced.
Police officers in Cebu said they were surprised to learn from immigration officials at the airport that Lacson was one of the passengers in a Hong Kong-Cebu flight.
Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police, said Lacson went through the immigration process at the Cebu airport with travel documents.
However, his return was expected. The legal impediments for his return had been cleared.
On March 21, 2011 the Court of Appeals lifted the arrest warrant issued in February 2010 by the Manila Regional Trial Court.
Lacson has been on the run from authorities since January 2010, a few days before he was formally charged as the mastermind in the murders of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000.
The death of Dacer, who was then reportedly helping clean the image of former President Estrada, was allegedly related to the BW Resources stock market scandal.
The BW scandal was one of the triggers of the impeachment case against Estrada in 2000-2001.
The senator has repeatedly insisted on his innocence and blamed political persecution by the former Arroyo government as a reason for his hiding.
He was then exposing corruption cases against the former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo and her husband.
Meanwhile, the double murder case remains unsolved.
The Dacer family is thinking of elevating the case to the Supreme Court.