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Panfilo Lacson out of hiding

MANILA, March 26, 2011 (AFP) – A Philippine senator who was once on Interpol’s wanted list came out of hiding Saturday after a court ruled an arrest warrant against him for two murders was invalid, police said.

Panfilo Lacson, a former Philippine police chief and an unsuccessful 2004 presidential candidate, arrived in the central city of Cebu from Hong Kong, national police spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said.

“We are monitoring his movements, for his own security,” Cruz told reporters.

Lacson had been on the run since February last year, when a lower court ordered him to be arrested to stand trial for the 2000 abduction and murders of two people, including a publicist of former president Fidel Ramos.

Manila sought the help of the International Criminal Police Organization, which promptly put him on a “red notice” list of international fugitives, amid speculation that he had fled abroad the previous month.

Lacson did not issue a statement Saturday and it was unclear where he had stayed over the past 13 months.

He had been widely expected to come out of hiding after a court ruled seven weeks ago that there was no probable course to charge him for the two murders.

Lacson was the national police chief under then-president Joseph Estrada at the time of the killings.

He had insisted he was out of the country at the time one witness – a former subordinate – said he overheard Lacson in a conversation with Estrada in which the murder of the publicist was supposedly ordered.

Estrada, who is not being prosecuted for the murders, has consistently denied the allegations.

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

Philippine media have suggested the Ramos publicist, Salvador Dacer, and his driver were killed because of the publicist’s knowledge of alleged wrongdoing in the Estrada administration.

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