CHICAGO (jGLi) – The noose is tightening around the neck of former Philippine police officer Michael Ray B. Aquino.
Mr. Aquino has 90 calendar days, including weekends and holidays, within which to file a petition for a writ of certiorari before the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., following the denial Monday (April 25) of his petition for rehearing of his habeas corpus en banc by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
If he waives his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Aquino is well on his way to his extradition to the Philippines.
However, his final extradition to the Philippines could still hit a snag if lawyers of the heirs of Salvador “Bubby” Dacer will succeed in seeking his answer to the $120-Million civil suit pending before the Northern District Court of California in San Francisco, where he is one of the defendants.
A clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court told this reporter that if Mr. Aquino would not file a petition for writ of certiorari for habeas corpus within 90 calendar days from April 25, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court loses its jurisdiction over Mr. Aquino’s petition.
A one-page “Sur Petition for Rehearing With Suggestion for Rehearing En Banc,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on April 25, 2011 signed by Judge Thomas M. Hardiman on behalf of 12 other Circuit judges said, “The petition for rehearing filed by Appellant (Michael Ray Aquino) having been submitted to all judges who participated in the decision of this court, and to all the other available circuit judges in active service, and a majority of the judges who concurred in the decision not having asked for rehearing, and a majority of the circuit judges of the circuit in regular active service not having voted for rehearing by the court en banc, the petition for rehearing is hereby DENIED.”
The denial of rehearing effectively showed that the U.S. Court of Appeals was not persuaded by one of the arguments raised by erstwhile fugitive Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson in quashing the warrant of his arrest and the finding of probable cause in his case by the Philippine Court of Appeals.
In his petition for rehearing, Aquino told the U.S. Court of Appeals en banc that the Philippine Court of Appeals “set aside the finding of probable cause” that dismissed the indictment against Lacson because his former fellow officer Cezar O. Mancao II admitted that a panel of two undersecretaries of the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ), the prosecutor and a Regional Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) “provided ‘guidance’ in the preparation of the (Mancao’s) affidavit, and that his statements ‘will be used for a case.’”
Aquino said that because the Philippine Court of Appeals handed his former superior officer, General-turned Senator Lacson, a favorable ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals should likewise reconsider, set aside and refuse his extradition to the Philippines as well.
Filing as pro se (his own lawyer),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 reasons for his original petition that “the fact that death has not been substantiated by any physical evidence; the evidence, in fact, negates such a finding; [and] 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 INVESTIGATE DACER
“Aquino gave order to begin a discreet investigation of one of the victims, Salvador “Bubby” Dacer, who made comments against then-President 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. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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