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Philippine senator flees abroad to escape charges

Philippine senator flees abroad to escape charges

A Philippine opposition senator facing murder charges said he had fled the country to escape what he called political harassment by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief and one of Arroyo's staunchest critics, sent a statement to Philippine media Tuesday saying he was a victim of conspiracy and feared for his life if he had stayed in the Philippines to fight the charges against him.
State prosecutor Peter Ong said last month the charges against Lacson were based on physical evidence and witness testimony, including that of a former police officer claiming that Lacson gave the order to kill a prominent publicist and his driver in 2000.
Publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer had represented top political figures, including ousted President Joseph Estrada. Both Lacson and Estrada deny any hand in the murders.
Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, were snatched from a Manila street and were later found strangled in a creek bed. Their bodies had been doused with gasoline and burned. Investigators identified their corpses using dental records.
"I will not allow Mrs. Arroyo and her cohorts ... the pleasure of seeing my life miserable and in danger," Lacson said in the statement. "I am not guilty but I cannot risk putting my life and security at the mercy of that evil conspiracy."
Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said Lacson was not yet considered a fugitive. A Manila court was expected to decide this week whether to issue a warrant for his arrest.
Lacson was elected senator in May 2001 and was one of several candidates to run against Arroyo in the 2004 presidential election.
He did not say where he fled to. Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan said Lacson left Jan. 5 on a flight to Hong Kong.


Updated : 2021-10-22 10:30 GMT+08:00