Lacson to De Lima: ‘Come back, don’t follow my example’

MANILA — Unlike himself, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson believes that colleague Senator Leila de Lima, who is currently out of the country, will not try to escape as he did when he was charged with a double murder case in 2010.

“In jest I told her, ‘come back, don’t follow my example’. She said ‘I would really return’ because she wanted to face the cases filed against her,” Lacson told reporters in an interview in a mix of Filipino and English.

De Lima is currently in the United States to accept an award and to Germany to speak before the Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy.

Before leaving the country, De Lima expressed hope that her “brief absence” would provide relief to her detractors and critics. She assured that she will “surely return”.

Last Oct. 7, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against De Lima and five others allegedly involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.

A lookout bulletin order is issued to persons to at least monitor the itineraries of their flight, travel, and/or whereabouts. These persons are allowed to travel provided they have permission from the justice department.

De Lima, a former justice secretary is facing four drug complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala, high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian, and the NBI, stemming from the senator’s alleged violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Lacson, however, said it was still her choice whether she wanted to stay abroad for the meantime.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Saturday allowed Senator Leila de Lima to travel abroad since no hold departure has been issued by the court against her.

He pointed out that there was nothing wrong with De Lima leaving the country because she had permission from Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III to go on an official travel.

“I don’t see anything wrong with her leaving because there is no AW (arrest warrant) issued against her yet. There is no court order that says she has an HDO (hold departure order),” the senator said.

“When I left (the country), I didn’t have an AW either,” he added. “You cannot prevent a person from traveling because that’s a basic right.”

In 2010, Lacson was charged with double-murder in connection to the twin killings of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

The following year, the Supreme Court dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by the Dacer family against Lacson for lack of merit.