August 31, 2001, Inquirer News Service, SC tells Lacson to justify TRO on kidnap raps, by Cathy C. Yamsuan,
Posted:2:24 AM (Manila Time)
THE SUPREME Court has given Sen. Panfilo Lacson and his former subordinate, ex-Supt. Michael Ray Aquino, 10 days to justify the issuance of a temporary restraining order by a Manila judge that barred any further investigation into their alleged involvement in several kidnap and murder cases in 1999.
The SC order was prompted by a petition filed by the Department of Justice that also charged Manila Judge Hermogenes Liwag with grave abuse of discretion for having issued the TRO.
The DOJ accused Liwag, a respondent in the SC order, of "disregarding (its) crystal-clear authority" and those of government prosecutors to conduct the preliminary investigation, when he issued the TRO.
Liwag handed down the order after upholding Lacson’s argument that the allegations against him involving kidnap-for-ransom and murder were the same as those contained in a complaint filed earlier by civilian agent Mary Ong with the Office of the Ombudsman on Jan. 8.
Ong, or Rosebud, was a Chinese interpreter for the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force that Lacson headed. At the same time he was director general of the Philippine National Police.
By conducting a separate probe, Lacson said the DOJ was violating the Ombudsman’s "prior, primary and exclusive jurisdiction to investigate criminal cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan."
Lacson had asked the DOJ not to push through with the preliminary investigation of the cases. Before the department could act on his request, Lacson and Aquino had filed a petition for prohibition before the Manila court.
Ong’s Jan. 8 complaint before the Ombudsman contained derogatory information against Lacson, Aquino and other ranking PNP officers.
She had accused Lacson in the kidnap-murder of Chong Hiu Ming on Dec. 30, 1998; Wong Kam Chong on March 26, 1999, and Chan Ka Tseung on July 25, 1999; the abduction of Zeng Jia Xuan and an unnamed brother; and the kidnap for ransom of Hong Zhen Quiao and James Ong on March 26, 1999.
Aquino, on the other hand, had been charged with violating the Anti-Wiretapping Act for allegedly listening in on conversations on two phone lines of Chan Ka Tseung.
He was also named a principal accused in the kidnap, murder and theft case involving Chan.