US to extradite Michael Ray
By Edu Punay
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Former police senior superintendent Michael Ray Aquino is expected to return to the country to stand trial for the November 2000 double murder of Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.
A US District Court in Newark, New Jersey approved on Thursday the Philippine government’s application for Aquino’s extradition.
Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor, outgoing head of the government’s Task Force 211 on media killings, said he has received this information but the government has yet to receive official notice about the US court order.
He said they were expecting the decision to be posted on the website of the US Justice Department last night.
A report from www.gmanews.tv said that the one-page order dated March 4, 2010 was signed by Judge Esther Salas. The judge also reportedly certified Aquino’s extradition “to the Secretary of State, together with a copy of all evidence received for this matter.”
The US court is expected to issue a warrant authorizing the turnover of Aquino to Philippine authorities.
Aquino is one of three former police officials being chased by the government in connection with the Dacer-Corbito case.
The others, former senior superintendent Cezar Mancao II and superintendent Glenn Dumlao, were extradited last year.
Blancaflor told reporters that Aquino’s camp would likely appeal the decision, so the DOJ is not expecting the former police official to be back home immediately – just like his former colleagues in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.
“If he (Aquino) can afford a lawyer for $400 an hour, then we can expect further delay in his extradition. But if the order for his extradition becomes final, it would take about seven to 10 days for him to be brought back here,” the DOJ official explained.
Blancaflor also revealed that the government has no plans so far to make Aquino a state witness in the case.
Aquino was jailed for 42 months in a federal facility in North Carolina after pleading guilty in 2007 to possession of classified federal documents. He then appealed for a reduced sentence, arguing that the initial ruling was based on a mistaken interpretation of federal guidelines.
Later, New Jersey District Court Judge William Walls reduced his sentence for possessing classified US documents from 76 months to time served.
After the Newark court ordered his release in March last year, Aquino was transferred to the custody of federal immigration officials for his extradition case.