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Lacson back in PHL from HK after hiding for over a year

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, shown in this file photo, returns to the Philippines Saturday after more than a year of hiding. GMANews.TV
(Update 2 - 10:20 p.m.) After hiding for more than a year, Sen. Panfilo Lacson returned to the Philippines from Hong Kong on Saturday and arrived in Manila around 6:40 p.m. the same night, an official from the Philippine National Police (PNP) said. PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr, in a text message to GMA News Online, said the senator arrived at the Mactan International Airport in Cebu on a Cathay Pacific flight CX 921 at about 11:42 a.m. "Dumating po si Sen. Panfilo Lacson sa Mactan Airport lulan ng isang Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong at siya ay sinalubong ng isa nating Bureau of Immigration offical," Cruz said in a separate interview on radio dzBB. Lacson then arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at around 6:40 p.m., according to a GMA News Flash Report, on board a private plane. According to the report, Lacson flew in from Cebu on a chartered plane with registry number RP-C2711, which landed at the airport’s general aviation area. The report added the senator evaded reporters who staked out his expected arrival at the NAIA. Cruz earlier said Lacson booked a Philippine Airlines flight (PR 864) to Manila at 8 p.m., but later clarified that the senator left Mactan on a private Baron-type, twin-engine plane. (See: Lacson on his way to Manila from Cebu) "From there hihintayin pa natin ang susunod na report kung saan siya tutungo," he added. Lacson left the country on January 5 last year also on a Cathay Pacific flight, two days before being charged with double murder for his alleged involvement in the killings of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000. Lacson, an opposition senator who was a former national police chief and head of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), later said he left the country because he felt he was not safe in the Philippines and was worried he would be "politically harassed" under the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Former Police Senior Superintendent Cezar Mancao II, a former member of PAOCTF who confessed to participating in the abduction of Dacer and Corbito, said in his testimony executed while he was in the United States that Lacson was the mastermind of the crime. The senator had repeatedly denied claims linking him to the killings. Lacson was placed under the Immigration bureau's watch list only a week after he left the country last year. The Department of Foreign Affairs also canceled both his regular and diplomatic passport. Since his departure, rumors started circulating that he had left Hong Kong and was already in Rome, Italy, while some claimed he was only hiding somewhere in the Philippines.
Last March 18, the Court of Appeals' Special Sixth Division issued a 16-page resolution affirming as immediately executory an earlier decision on Feb. 3, 2011 that nullified arrest warrants against Lacson. The Feb. 3 ruling also dismissed the double murder charges filed against the senator. The ruling further said only the Supreme Court can reinstate the arrest warrants against him. The Department of Justice heeded the CA order, even as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) took Lacson's name off its red notice list on the request of the National Bureau of Investigation, a DOJ-attached agency. The red notice list requires INTERPOL-member countries to notify the Philippines if ever Lacson is spotted. Meanwhile, a staff of Lacson has already sought the permission of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to re-open Lacson's office at the fifth floor of the Senate building in Pasay City, so he could resume his legislative work. — With Jerrie M. Abella/LBG/JV, GMA News