(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)


CHICAGO (jGLi) – Up until before the outbreak of World War II, the United States Supreme Court had jurisdiction over the Philippine Supreme Court as the Philippines was still a Commonwealth of the U.S.

But after the Philippines gained its independence from the U.S., the Philippine Supreme Court is no longer bound by the U.S. Supreme Court although it is still looking up to it for guidance.

Former Philippine police officer Michael Ray B. Aquino wants the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to reverse course by looking up to the Philippine Court of Appeals for guidance and be bound by it.

In a motion for rehearing following the denial of his petition for habeas corpus, Aquino, who will turn 45 on May 12, presented the decision of the Philippine Court of Appeals before the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The decision did not find probable cause for fugitive Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson after declaring that “Cezar Mancao is not a credible and trustworthy witness.” And Aquino wants the favorable ruling for Lacson that quashed the warrant of Lacson's arrest be applied to him as well by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Lacson's Philippine Court of Appeals' favorable ruling is pending review by the Philippine Supreme Court.

If the U.S. Court of Appeals abides by the decision of the Philippine Court of Appeals, Aquino said then the decision of the “court below” (the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey) against him should “be reconsidered, set aside, and the extradition request be refused.”

Filing again as pro se (his own lawyer), Mr. Aquino also used the same argument raised by his former superior officer, General-turned Senator Lacson, that Mr. Mancao, “in the preparation of his affidavit was visited in prison, and assisted by a panel consisting of two undersecretaries of the Philippine DOJ (Department of Justice), the prosecutor, and a Regional Director of the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation).




“Cezar Mancao admitted that the panel provided “guidance” in the preparation of the affidavit, and that his statements ‘will be used for a case.’ The Court of Appeals of the Philippines set aside the finding of probable cause, and dismissed the indictment” against Lacson.

Aquino said, “[w]ithout Mancao’s testimony, there is no evidence that links the undersigned to the alleged murder, even if it be assumed that the fact of death has been substantiated. [Glenn G.] Dumlao did not point to the undersigned. Neither is there any statement from the confessed accomplice (Alex Diloy), (who witnessed the alleged strangulation of [Salvador “Bubby”] Dacer and [Dacer’s driver, Emmanuel] Corbito, and helped in the alleged incineration of their bodies) that undersigned appellant was involved in the alleged murder.”

Aquino reiterated his previous reason for his original petition that “1) the fact that death has not been substantiated by any physical evidence; the evidence, in fact, negates such a finding; [and] 2) even if death has been proven, no witness has made any statement implicating the appellant (Aquino).”

In denying Aquino’s petition, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District did not mention Mancao but highlighted “salient facts that support the finding of probable case” against Aquino.

The per curiam opinion issued on Feb. 22, 2010 said, “Aquino, at the time of the alleged crimes, was Chief of the Operations Division of a Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), which had been formed by Joseph Estrada, then president of the Philippines.



“Aquino gave order to begin a discreet investigation of one of the victims, Salvador “Bubby” Dacer, who made comments against Estrada. When the first investigator assigned to the project encountered obstacles to sneaking into Dacer’s hotel room to surreptitiously search it and obtain documents, Aquino gave him an order to burn or bomb the room.

“Aquino later transferred the Dacer assignment to someone else, whose first questions to the first investigator included an inquiry about what type of car Dacer had. Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, the other victim, were abducted when Dacer’s car was surrounded by armed gunmen while it was stopped at a red light.

“On the day that the victims were abducted, Aquino notified the first investigator and sent him to meet the second investigator to interrogate Dacer, who was then being held blindfolded and guarded in a van. At the conclusion of the interrogation, Aquino instructed the first investigator to return to base after securing all documents for him.

“The second investigator told the first that he would take care of things at the scene. Later that evening, Dacer and Corbito were strangled to death. Their bodies were then doused with gasoline and incinerated (the victims were identified through metal dental plates and a ring).

“After the presidential administration changed in the Philippines, a senator who had been associated with the PAOCTF warned Aquino that the government was coming after him for the double murder. Aquino fled to the United States in response. The next year, in a Las Vegas (Nevada) hotel, Aquino was heard blaming a colleague for sloppily dumping Dacer’s car into a ravine where it was easily discovered. He complained that the task had not been carried out properly.”

“In short,” the Court opinion said, “there is evidence in the record that supports the finding of probable cause.”

It added, “We cannot assign error to the District Court’s failure to consider the DNA evidence that Aquino cites because Aquino did not ask the District Court to consider it. Even if Aquino put the DNA evidence before the District Court, and the evidence was of the type the District Court could consider, the result would be unchanged.”

If Aquino’s rehearing is denied, his last option to stop his extradition to the Philippines is to appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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