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Aug 09th
Home Sections MiscellaNEWS Michael Aquino Acts As His Own Lawyer in His Habeas-Corpus Appeal
Michael Aquino Acts As His Own Lawyer in His Habeas-Corpus Appeal PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 05 January 2011 20:59



Journal Group Link International)


Michael Ray Aquino Acts In Propria Persona in His Habeas-Corpus Appeal


C HICAGO, Illinois (jGLi) – Former police officer Michael Ray Aquino can wear any hat as he pleases.


From a police officer, Mr. Aquino, 43, took up a nursing program in New York and passed the nursing board. Unfortunately, his illegal immigration status stood in his way of pursuing his second career as a nurse that was made more complicated when he was later on charged with and convicted of spying.


Recently, apparently frustrated with the way his lawyer in the spying case and later his extradition case handled his cases, Aquino informed the court that he will be acting as his own lawyer in his appeal for the denial of his habeas corpus.


(In some states, lawyers appointed by the court to represent an indigent criminal defendant can only be allowed to appear in state courts but does not include a federal appeal court.)


An e-mail sent by this reporter to his lawyer, Mark Berman, seeking comment why Aquino dispensed with his service, was not answered.


In a 54-page appellant brief filed by Aquino before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before Christmas, Aquino, signing as “pro se” (his own lawyer), told the court that the “clear pattern of fabrication of evidence by the Philippine prosecution, from the submission of bones found to be “animal skull,” to the suppression of DNA evidence, to the preparation of the Cezar Mancao’s affidavit by the prosecutor” are enough reasons that his “extradition request be refused for lack of probable cause.”


C iting that “DNA testing has an unparalleled ability both to exonerate the wrongly convicted and to identify the guilty” in the U.S. v. Paul Sczubelek (Third Circuit Court of Appeals, March 21, 2005), Aquino argued, “without a victim, there is no death. In the absence of death, there is no crime of murder. Without a crime, there can be no basis for a finding of probable cause.”


Aquino cited the “few bones” of what “remains of (former publicist) Salvador Dacer and (Dacer’s driver) Emmanuel” as evidence of the Philippine Department of Justice after their bodies were incinerated “for only two hours with stray pieces of wood and rubber tires.” He said the evidence belies “the assertion that the incineration reduced two human bodies to a few pieces of bone fragments.”


Citing the book, “Beyond the Body Farm” written by Dr. William Bass, a professor emeritus of the University of Tennessee, Aquino said, “True, by subjecting corpses to temperatures of 1600 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit (871 to 982 degrees Centigrades), cremation furnaces do destroy all the organic (carbon-containing) chemicals in the body, including DNA; however, when the gas is turned off, the furnace is cooled, and the door is opened, what remains is a recognizable human skeleton.”


Dr. Raquel Fortun wrote a letter to the NBI Director to attest that the “remains (fragments and other charred bones) (that) were recovered by the NBI team on April 7, 2001 (more than four  months after Dacer and Corbito were strangled and burned).” She made a report, “declaring that the bones were those of Dacer and Corbito.” The report added, “the bone fragments tested negative for human DNA .. and the bone appeared to be animal skull.”


But Aquino was asking  the Philippine DOJ why it excluded DNA evidence when it filed information on the case. He said while the NBI requested DNA evidence on April 9, 2001, the Philippine DOJ recommended the filing of information on May 11, 2001, before the DNA results were reported on May 22, 2001.


Aquino said, “Even without the DNA evidence, the lack of physical evidence obliterates probable cause.” He cited the case of Diosdado Jose Allado and Robert L. Mendoza v. Hon. Roberto C. Diokno (May 5, 1994), where the Philippine Supreme Court observed that “A human body cannot be pulverized into ashes by simply burning it with the use of gasoline and rubber tires in an open field.”


Aquino added that the same court “found that absence of skeletal remains obliterated probable cause.”


Aquino also told the court about the Philippine government’s attempts “to suborn two witnesses – Glenn Dumlao and Cezar Mancao.”


Dumlao was pressured to implicate Senator (Panfilo “Ping”) Lacson in the murders. While Brig. Gen. Romeo C. Prestoza, then Presidential Security Group chief, had offered Mancao and his family to be relocated to Singapore provided Mancao “lie and implicate Lacson.”


A quino also said that the affidavit executed by Mancao, waiving his extradition, was “prepared by Philippine prosecutor Hazel Valdez, who traveled to the Florida prison on a Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009, to draft the affidavit on her laptop” before “other people” but did “not mention Florida Public Defender, Bernardo Lopez.”


Aquino said there was even “no indication that Hazel Valdez read Mancao his rights.”


“Even in the absence of this pattern of witness and evidence tampering, the physical evidence abundantly underscores the lack of probable cause.” Aquino concluded.


Aquino can elevate his habeas corpus appeal before the United States Supreme Court if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denies his appeal.


Earlier, Aquino filed his appeal before the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit when Judge Stanley R. Chesler of the US District Court in Newark, New Jersey  denied Aquino’s habeas corpus petition last October 14.


Judge Chesler issued the denial by affirming the opinion of Magistrate Judge Esther Salas, who found that upon review of both written and oral submissions, the Philippine Government “has met its burden in providing sufficient evidence to establish probable cause" connecting Aquino to the abduction and killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby" Dacer and Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000. # # #


Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (


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