Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera assured Thursday that two more witnesses in the killing of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000 have been taken to "safe places."
Devanadera said that the two other witnesses, who have admitted to their involvement in the killing and burning of Dacer and Corbito's corpses, are now being convinced by the Department of Justice to allow themselves to be placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) again.
The DOJ made the move after the killing on Wednesday of Jimmy Lopez, a self-proclaimed civilian agent of the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), who admitted receiving Dacer and Corbito in his home in Cavite province from police agents.
Lopez claimed that after keeping Dacer and Corbito in his home in November 2000, the PAOCTF agents brought the two to a nearby creek and strangled them.
He said that he and his brother William and two other men burned Dacer and Corbito's corpses. The publicist and his driver's burned bodies were found in Indang town the same month and year.
Devanadera said the two other witnesses, who she did not name, "also know the same things."
She said Lopez and the other witnesses have been out of the WPP after testifying in court. She said Lopez was the first to get out of the WPP, declaring that he did not see any need for it anymore.
"He practically waived it. He did not find the need for it," Devanadera said, adding that Lopez was only being financially-supported by the government, at the time he was killed.
Lopez was with a woman when unidentified gunmen barged into his home at Phase 1, Reginaville 2000 in Trece Martirez City around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
He was supposed to appear before the DOJ on Thursday morning with three other witnesses to affirm the case filed by Dacer's daughters supposedly against Sen. Panfilo Lacson, former commander of PAOCTF.
No suspects yet
Devanadera, meanwhile, clarified that the police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have yet to determine the real motive for Lopez's killing.
She declined to answer when asked if the people who killed the "vital witness" are the same people involved in the Dacer-Corbito murders.
"Right now, we don't have any suspects. Let's see what turns out [in the investigations]. The murder is being treated as one with the victim of violence. I don't want to put any color to it," the DOJ secretary said.
Cavite police investigators said Lopez died of 18 bullet wounds in the body while the woman sustained 17 bullet wounds.
Superintendent Alfred Corpus, Cavite provincial police director, said they are looking at at least three angles to the killing.
Corpus said aside from being a witness in the Dacer-Corbito murder, Lopez is also included in the police's "hotlist" of drug personalities in the province. He said the woman with him was his lover, which indicates a possible love angle.