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What Secrets Will Cesar Mancao Reveal? (UPDATED)

June 4, 2009


mancao arrival preps montage

A window-less room at the National Bureau of Investigation awaits former police senior superintendent Cesar Mancao as he returns from the United States to stand as state’s witness in the murders of public relations practitioner Salvador ‘Bubby’ Dacer and driver Emmanuel Corbito.

The room though fully furnished is for all intents and purposes a detention cell even as we are being told the preparations are designed to ensure his total protection.

What secrets does Mancao really hold about who masterminded the dastardly political murders?

Here for our readers’ reference are previous stpries here @ At Midfield:

By the looks it the perceived or actual threats to this ex-policeman’s life must indeed be directly proportional to the massive security precautions for his arrival and de facto detention.

We are told 200 unarmed NBI agents are deployed at the airport to secure Mancao, apart from him being supplied with a bullet proof vest.

Manacao will be the last passenger to disembark from the plane.

(I can’t but have the eerie recollection that when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated in 1981 he too had worn a bullet proof vest but was led out first and escorted by side door to the airport tarmac where a lone assassin lay in waiting to shoot him in the head.)

When Mancao finally does unburden himself we certainly hope the poisoned air will be cleansed with the truth.

Most importantly, Filipinos want to know if earlier ‘striptease’ accounts are true that former president Joseph Estrada and Senator Panfilo Lacson (Mancao’s former boss at the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force) are involved.

Another personality whose name has been linked to the murders is businessman Dante Tan, central figure in the BW Resources stock market insider trading scam who is believed to be in self exile in Canada.

Bubby Dacer was the publicist of Tan when the scandal broke in 1999 stock market scam in 1999 with Estrada being tagged as having ordered GSIS to invest in BW Resources’ stocks which plummeted when the scam became public.

Among the bases for Estrada’s conviction on plunder charges and which contributed to his ouster in 2001 was the BW scandal.

Mancao may or may not hold the key and he knows his peace of mind, and life, may depends on what he will testify to in court.

His countrymen wait.


I’ve just received a piece written by veteran journalist Rodney Jaleco who’s now based in the U.S. with ABS-CBN Global, along with Vivian Zalvideo Arraullo, Wxecutive Producer of the sho Balitang America on ANC.

Here is Rodney Jaleco’s piece in full:

rocney jalecoWhy Should We Care About Cesar Mancao?
By Rodney Jaleco
(Through Vivian Zalvidea-Araullo)

I’ve never met Cesar Mancao, but I do know Bubby Dacer.

Bubby was always clad in white, from shirt to shoe. Without fail, he would ask about my father; they were contemporaries, my dad manning the provincial desk in the pre-Martial Law Manila Chronicle and Bubby, a young cub trying his hand at journalism. Like many in the industry, he was lured into the world of public relations. He specialized in “crisis PR”, an often dangerous but more challenging branch of the trade. He made as many enemies as he made friends.
In November 2000, Mancao’s and Dacer’s stars crossed paths. Like a comet, it’s coming back again.

Our Balitang America executive producer Vivian Zalvidea-Araullo posed a question this morning that I thought to be a very valid one, enough at least to make me write this (thanks Vivs!). To paraphrase, why should we care about Cesar Mancao?

One day, a time so long ago my memory blurs, a scared, confused police officer named Ed delos Reyes walked into the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City. He wanted to talk to someone about an “encounter” along Commonwealth Avenue, that he claims was actually a rub-out. A security guard was insistent that I talk to Ed; he got in but now they didn’t know how to get him out because he was a cop determined to tell a disturbing tale. That incident, of course, was the Kuratong Baleleng rub-out case – over a dozen members of a notorious crime gang executed allegedly because of the millions they stole from banks, allegedly coveted by certain ranking police officials. Among those implicated were Michael Ray Aquino, Glen Dumlao and Cesar Mancao — who are all in the US awaiting extradition (Aquino after serving time for espionage).

The trio was well-known among police reporters because they were actively involved in anti-kidnap operations, especially when the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) was established, headed by now Sen. Ping Lacson.

For people who’re aware in intimate terms with the vile, despicable nature of criminal gangs, it would be easy to dismiss the Kuratong Baleleng rub-out as justice served.

But that ambivalence, I know shared by many back home – exasperated as they may be with the slow pace of justice or the absence thereof – may have only fueled the current problem of extrajudicial killings.

Surely, cops turning bad are nothing new to the Philippines, nor is it unique. I have seen cops turn a blind eye on hawkers of counterfeit goods on Canal St. in New York; I too wonder why they do that (wink). Last weekend, I watched the movie “Pride and Glory” starring two of my favorites – Ed Norton and Colin Farrell. Sure, it’s just a movie (a very good one at that), but it’s easy to see how cops can slide into the very criminals they’re trying to catch.

The bloated corpse of alleged criminals floating on the Pasig River was, for a time, applauded as another proof the police was at work. Notch one down against the rapist, murderer or snatcher.

But the Dacer-Corbito killing went beyond this template of underworld killings. For one, it was allegedly sanctioned at the highest echelons of power. Secondly, for all his faults, Bubby was no criminal. And lastly, the murders cast doubt on the ability and readiness of government to fulfill its duty to protect the people, all people.

Back then, when I was writing something critical against some policemen, I knew I had nothing to worry about if that cop’s immediate superior tolerated the criticism. Conversely I knew I was in trouble when the concerned policeman gets mad — and his superior gets mad too! This extended all the way up the police chain of command — we knew that for as long as the police leadership supports the principles of a free press, we were free to criticize but only as far as our evidence will support it; otherwise, everyone will be mad at us, and we’d be in deep s…t.

So the number of policemen who couldn’t touch you grew as the level of support went higher up the chain of command. Thus, if you had a Chief PNP who truly backed a free press, a reporter really had nothing to fear, except a libel suit of course.

Mancao, if he tells the whole truth, has the power to knock whatever shade there is on the police organization. His testimony could show how criminal orders are so easily dispensed at the highest levels of the institution mandated to fight precisely that criminality.

Mancao was part of a close-knit community of “star” police officers. They were good at what they did, and they knew it. It reminds me of Gov. Chavit Singson – who else to speak about the devil than someone who cavorted with him. The most effective whistleblower is someone who’s dirtied his hands himself.

There should be accountability, because ultimately, the fear of getting caught is the most potent deterrence against wrongdoing – regardless of who you are, what administration you belong to, or what your motives are.

And who prepares the hit list? A man, once he starts killing another human being, can justify anything.

The bureaucracy runs on inertia. The police and military are part of the bureaucracy. Unless there is a force to stop extrajudicial killings – be they the vilest criminal, the reddest of communist sympathizers or someone who just got on the wrong side of a powerful official – this will become more insidious and permanent. But the laws of physics state that unless that stopping force is sufficient, anyone who stands in the way could just get run over.

Ed delos Reyes tried to stop it and was hounded out of the country. He’s now in Canada, living with a new name, thanks to his church; he got nothing from the government he tried to help.

Surely, there are still enough good policemen and soldiers to save their institutions, but this process of allowing Mancao to tell all will be good. His wife, Maricar, assured me in an interview, that Mancao will tell the whole truth and this will be good for him, his family and for everyone. I agree.

Maricar also asserted that her husband was a victim. If what he’ll say is the truth, we may well discover that all of us are victims.

So what’s the fuss with Mancao? He can finally give justice to the deaths of Dacer and Corbito, and perhaps answer a question that still burns in my mind – why? He can expose the abuse of power possibly at the highest levels of government. He can pressure reform in the police and military – weaning them away from relying too much on “police power” and onto “smart power”.

Mancao can possibly shed light on other murders and disappearances of journalists. His testimony could change the political dynamics of the 2010 elections; if early speculations of what he will say is true, he could all but scuttle the presidential aspirations of Ping Lacson and former Pres. Estrada – and by extension, push other junior but more promising opposition stalwarts to the forefront (and give the administration bets a better fight?).

Knowing the way things run back home, I have grave doubts anything significant will come to pass from Mancao’s redemptive act, except perhaps disrupt the opposition’s political campaign. But I still hope, because that is something I can do.

Of all the reasons why we should pay Mancao mind, my favorite is one that delivers a message to both the past and present Powers – crime does not pay.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2009 5:08 am

    Clearly a political strategy and tactic to keep the Erap-led opposition on its heels and possibly setting PING up as the spoiler, again. Speculation that this could be used for a martial law declaration are also very disturbing. Such is not completely groundless, as history shows. But they have to stir things up quite a bit more and this would only be one of the ladles they would use while basting us in our own oil…

  2. January 19, 2010 7:39 pm

    “Knowing the way things run back home, I have grave doubts anything significant will come to pass from Mancao’s redemptive act, except perhaps disrupt the opposition’s political campaign. But I still hope, because that is something I can do.”

    Dear Sir:
    Also knowing the way things run back home, I also have grave doubts anything significant . . . . utopian even, but still, your voice contributes to make the sound of a dirge for the impending funeral of these criminals louder because it comes nearer and nearer.


  1. Cesar Mancao Says He Will Reveal ‘The Truth’ « At Midfield
  2. Will Estrada Be Jailed Again?; Holes In Claims That Erap Masterminded Dacer-Corbito Murders « At Midfield
  3. Sen. Ping Lacson In The Dock: The Dacer-Corbito Double Murder « At Midfield
  4. An Open Letter To Sen. Panfilo Lacson « At Midfield

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