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Lacson says he will not surrender

MANILA, December 2, 2010 (AFP) – A fugitive Philippine senator wanted for the murder of a high-profile public relations consultant a decade ago insisted Thursday he was innocent and said he would not surrender.

In a statement sent to news agencies in Manila, Panfilo Lacson, 62, also called on the justice department to re-investigate the case and withdraw arrest warrants issued against him.

“I will only come out when justice is rightly served, or when I’m already dead,” Lacson said.

“I prefer to suffer in pain with dignity, sitting alone with my conscience for the rest of my life, rather than do time in jail for a crime I did not commit.”

Lacson has been on the run since January, days before a court issued a warrant for his arrest for allegedly ordering the 2000 abduction and murders of Salvador Dacer and his driver.

The justice department said this week it believed Lacson, elected a senator in 2001, was hiding in the Philippines. Police had earlier said he may have fled abroad around the time the arrest warrant was issue.

Dacer was, in 2000, the publicist of former president Fidel Ramos. Lacson was the national police chief under then-president Joseph Estrada.

Estrada was ousted in a military-backed popular uprising a year after the murder and subsequently convicted of large scale corruption, then pardoned.

Philippine media have suggested Dacer was killed because of his knowledge of alleged wrongdoing in the Estrada administration.

Lacson on Thursday insisted he was out of the country at the time one witness — a former subordinate – said he overheard him in a car conversation with Estrada in which the murder was supposedly ordered.

Estrada has consistently denied the allegations.

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