"He made a mockery out of the justice system."
This is how Justice Secretary Leila de Lima described what Senator Panfilo Lacson did while he was still a fugitive. That is why she welcomes the decision of the Bureau of Immigration to start conducting its own probe on the whereabouts of Lacson when he was still in hiding.
"The senator must come clean by telling us saan talaga siya nanggaling, anu-anong bansa ang napuntahan niya, yun documents niya saan galing kasi nalalagay sa alanganin yun authorities natin. The Department of Foreign Affairs, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police - ang dating inutil sila," she said.
De Lima questioned Lacson's claim that he went to different countries to avoid arrest, noting that the International Police was also looking for him.
She said the Department of Foreign Affairs' statement that Lacson's travel document did not come from the Philippine consulates in Macau, Xiamen and Hong Kong also raises questions.
"What about the Interpol, who was supposed to relay the information to us kung talagang he hopped from one country to another like what he said in his interviews, o talaga bang nalusutan niya pati yun? Meron ba talagang travel document? Genuine ba?" de Lima asked.
The justice chief further revealed that people from the Bureau of Immigration could be investigated including an immigration officer who welcomed Lacson in Cebu-Mactan airport. He said the officer will be asked if he or she verified the documents Lacson presented.
Lacson returned to the country last Saturday after the appellate court nixed a warrant for his arrest in connection with the Dacer-Corbito murder case. The senator hid for 14 months after he was linked to the murders.
A Malacañang official, meanwhile, said it will be up to de Lima to investigate how Lacson evaded the law for more than a year.
"I will leave it to Secretary De Lima to see how she can conduct the investigation about it. The more important thing really right now is to put closure to all these matters. I understand the situation of Secretary Leila de Lima. Like I said yesterday, the [Bureau] of Immigration and Deportation is under her," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda said the Palace cannot force Lacson to reveal the names of his protectors during his many months of hiding.
"If you are asking us if we are going to insist on Senator Lacson revealing his sources and I think we are not going into that. As far as the Palace is concerned, we are not asking Senator Lacson to reveal his sources, short of any compulsory process," he said.
"Short of any compulsory process or any voluntary offer from the Senator himself to reveal them. We are leaving it at that. We cannot compel him to reveal those who helped him," he added.