Lacson linked Aquino spying case

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE District Attorney of New Jersey in the US has implicated Sen. Panfilo Lacson as a co-conspirator in the espionage case involving his former ally, Senior Supt. Michael Ray Aquino, Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez said Tuesday.

Aquino has confessed to receiving confidential information leaked by US Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Leandro Aragoncillo.

Gonzalez said he received the half-inch thick document from the district attorney, which he identified only as Buch, who is prosecuting the Aquino-Aragoncillo espionage case, containing their fact-finding report wherein Lacson’s name was supposedly mentioned.

“I have the documents with me and I will call a press conference on Wednesday to show the documents from the US District Attorney that Lacson was a co-conspirator for the crime of espionage,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez revealed the document a day after Lacson, who is running for election under the Genuine Opposition ticket, filed graft charges against him for offering a P10,000 reward to barangay officials in Iloilo City who deliver a 12-0 sweep for Team Unity candidates.

Gonzalez said he wrote a letter to Bach asking that Lacson should also be charged since his name appeared in the report.

He said that based on the document, Lacson could also be charged with coup d’état in the Philippines for planning to overthrow the Arroyo administration.

Gonzalez said other names were mentioned in the US fact-finding report “such as Congressman Rodito Albano.”

Aragoncillo, who worked as a security specialist at the White House from 1999 to 2001, pleaded guilty to transmitting sensitive national defense information to Aquino and opposition figures in the Philippines in a plot to oust President Arroyo.

Aquino pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing secret US government documents. He faces a jail sentence of between 70 and 87 months plus a $250,000 fine.

Deposed President Joseph Estrada, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel admitted they were among those in Aragoncillo’s mailing list but said the information was not illegal or subversive.

Aquino hid in the US for four years after slipping out of the Philippines following Estrada’s ouster on January 20, 2001. He was arrested in New Jersey in September 2005 after being tagged as a recipient of Aragoncillo’s leaked information.

Lacson, Aquino and 33 other policemen had been charged in the alleged rubout of 11 Kuratong Baleleng gang members in 1995.

Aquino was also charged for the abduction of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito. Two badly burned bodies were later determined to be that of Dacer and Corbito.

Gonzalez said he had received the district attorney’s report even before Lacson filed graft charges him before the Office of the Ombudsman.

“I don’t mind the charges of Senator Lacson against me. What he should be doing now is to face the possible espionage charges against him in the United States,” he said.

Lacson dismissed Gonzalez’s disclosure of the report. “I thought he wouldn’t be intimidated by the graft case I filed against him. Why is he losing his cool?” Lacson said.

He said Gonzalez should not meddle with the US judicial system.