Atty. Ferdinand Topacio at the Balitaan sa Tinapayan forum, Sept. 20, 2009
MANILA - A lawyer on Sunday dared Sen. Panfilo Lacson to take lie-detector tests with him over statements made by the senator in connection with the ongoing probe on the killings of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito back in November 2000.
“Magpa-lie detector test na kami para magkaalaman na who is telling the truth,” said lawyer Ferdinand Topacio at the Balitaan sa Tinapayan forum Sunday.
Topacio, counsel for former police official Cezar Mancao II who is accused of involvement in the double-murder case, denied a reported statement by the senator which said that Lacson could see the hand of supporters of Sen. Manny Villar Jr. in efforts to pin him down in the Dacer-Corbito case.
Lacson was reported by The Philippine Star to have noted that Dacer lawyer Demetrio Custodio and Topacio were getting witnesses from Batangas, whose former governor Armand Sanchez is a Villar supporter and Nacionalista Party (NP) leader. Lacson reportedly tagged Topacio as a counsel for Sanchez.
The Dacer camp said it would present a new witness, identified as Lymith Bagual, who claimed that she saw Dacer and Lacson arguing in a resort in Batangas a week before the killing. Bagual, who will reportedly be presented in the next hearing set on Sept. 28, would reportedly be used as circumstantial evidence in the complaint.
Lacson said however that he could not have left Metro Manila in November 2000 because there were many things he had to attend to as Philippine National Police chief due to the impeachment case then against former President Joseph Estrada.
Toopacio said however that he was not acting as a “stooge of any vested interest” in the double-murder case denying Lacson’s insinuation of acting for NP’s presidential bet.
Topacio admitted to the forum that he was a lawyer of Sanchez whom he said wants his help in his gubernatorial run in Batangas for the 2010 elections. He also said that Sanchez was the NP’s campaign manager for Southern Luzon.
He said however that he only talks about politics with Sanchez. He cited Sanchez takes him on weekly visits to San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora but only to discuss politics.
Topacio also admitted that he has met Villar but said that it took place last year.
He said he only met Villar at the 25th wedding anniversary of the former Batangas governor when he stood as a proxy sponsor for Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Conrado Vasquez Jr.
“Baka nga di na niya ako makilala eh. Proxy lang ako nang huli kaming mag-usap,” said Topacio.
Topacio also said he was taking the defense of Mancao as “pro-bono.”
Villar’s spokesman meanwhile defended NP’s presidential bet on Lacson’s insinuation that Villar has a hand in alleged efforts to link him to the double-murder case
Gilbert Remulla, NP spokesperson
“Siguro nawawalan na nang pagbibintangan si Senator Lacson at ngayon idinadawit na naman itong si Senator Villar sa kung anu-ano. Sa palagay namin siguro pag-isipin niya ng mabuti kung sino nga ba ang gumagawa nito at huwag na lang basta-basta magbanggit na mga pangalan ng kung ganyan. Dahil wala naman talagang kinalaman si Senator Villar sa ganitong bagay-bagay,” said Gilbert Remulla, NP spokesperson, in an interview.
Remulla clarified that Sanchez is a friend of the NP but has not been formally sworn in to the party yet. He said however that still it is “far-fetched” for Lacson to even link Villar to the issue.
Test in Senate
Topacio also challenged Lacson to have him take the lie-detector test in the Senate.
“Pero pag negative ang lie detector test sa ‘kin, right there and then, he should tender his resignation as a member of the Senate. Pag positive, demanda niya ako – isasauli ko ang lisensya ko sa Supreme Court,” said Mancao’s lawyer.
Lacson had also warned Topacio against continuously spreading false information that he was passing off as testimonies in court, saying he would file charges against him at the proper time.
Topacio however said he stood by his earlier statement that based on the testimonies and Mancao’s February 2009 affidavit, there was no direct evidence linking former president Joseph Estrada to the double-murder case.
“Wala pong direktang so far naglilink pa – evidence is indirect. With respect to direct evidence to Lacson, meron,” reiterated Topacio at the forum Sunday.
Topacio said that there was a possibility that Lacson was misinformed as he denied making statements to discredit Lacson.
“Wala po tayong motibo para siraan si Sen. Lacson,” said Topacio.
“Defend yourself vs complaint”
He meanwhile asked Lacson to focus on answering the complaint on the double-murder case filed against him at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“Total mayroon pong complaint sa kanya before the DOJ, kung siya ay ma-iinclude as a suspect or as an accused, he should meet the accusation in court, hindi po sa publiko o hindo po sa media because the issues are legal,” said Topacio.
“Regardless of what the people may think, kung ang ebidensya po will point to him ay mako-convict po siya. Now. regardless of what media or the people may think also, kung walang katibayan laban kay Senator Lacson ay di po siya mako-convict,” he added.
In a privilege speech, Lacson accused Estrada of amassing millions from jueteng as well as from smuggling. He also accused Estrada of forcing former ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco to sell his family’s interests in the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.
He also said the ousted president could have masterminded the killings of Dacer and Corbito in November 2000.
Lacson said he delivered his damning privilege speech because he also had to defend himself against the ousted president’s allegation that he supervised the operation to kill Dacer.
The preliminary investigation of the DOJ on the complaint against Lacson will resume on Friday, when officials of the National Bureau of Investigation are expected to submit new evidence.
Mancao earlier testified at a Manila court that Lacson sought the liquidation of Dacer after the latter threatened to expose Estrada’s involvement in insider trading in the stock market.
He reportedly accused Lacson, then national police chief, of giving the order “to get rid” of Dacer and that he was “directly getting orders from Malacañang.”
He also testified that the killing was dubbed “Operation Delta” and that the man codenamed “Bigote” (moustache) mentioned in his affidavit was Estrada.
The DOJ only reopened the double-murder case after Mancao implicated Lacson, hoping to finally uncover the mastermind of the killing.
Lacson meanwhile is set to deliver a second privilege speech on Tuesday. With reports from Apples Jalandoni, ABS-CBN News and The Philippine Star