“What is right, must be kept right; what is wrong, must be set right.”

Throughout his service to the Philippine National Police, Lacson’s principles and serious reforms have been notable in bringing back the old glory of the policeman, a protector of the public and the country.

During his 14-month command as the PNP Chief under former President Estrada’s tenure, Panfilo “Ping” Morena Lacson has struggled to alter the public’s view of the Filipino policeman as what he called I.C.U. or Inept, Corrupt, and Undisciplined. People associated that police image to be indolent, lousy, addicted to graft, whether lowly kotong or the more lucrative jueteng intelihensya, or worse wired to drug syndicates.

Despite this apparently unmanageable case, Lacson strived hard to admonish some of his policemen about the evils of being I.C.U. Hence, his so-called antidote A.I.D. or Aptitude, Integrity, and Discipline that is essential for policemen to work effectively and vigorously.

Lacson spearheaded the transformation of the police institution into one that breeds truthful, disciplined, and competent police officers in service of the public. First of his programs engaged in immediate retrieval of carnapped vehicles as well as vehicles held as evidence, which were reported as being offensively used by policemen for operational and at times, personal purposes.

This kotong-buster fought against the breeding of kotong cops who constantly preyed on jeepney drivers, truckers, and haulers, and ordered corresponding arrests. Thus, his slogan, “Wag matakot, Stop Kurakot”. He also ordered those defiant policemen strutting of their bodyguards to prohibit them in the golf courses during work hours, to be duly at service when enforced for that matter.

Then, slim Ping decreed a 34-inch waistline max which forced 40-inchers with bulging tummies to trim, recognizing the need to maintain good health and keep fit plus altering negative views on policemen with beer bellies.

Next, he ordered the “no-take” policy on jueteng intelihensya or protection money. He also devised innovative approaches in fighting against narcotics trafficking through supply constriction and demand reduction.

Furthermore, he imposed transparency in the handling of funds, accordingly maintaining 15% of operating funds at headquarters and the remaining 85% to the field units. New uniforms were provided for. Also, during his tenure, over 2,000 police officers were dismissed for violations against public trust. Thus, morale among policemen was lifted.

Lacson’s fervor in fortifying the police institution was more realized when he initiated the establishment of the PNP Foundation Incorporated, which has been working to raise funds for it. Apparently, it has reached over P160-M from donors comprising from simplest folks to the biggest business enterprises. The Foundation is now managed by Congressman Gilbert Teodoro as chairman.

The stern crime-fighter image that Lacson has projected throughout his service, and has indeed proven true enough with the programs that he had successfully done for the police institution, was all because of his family which raised him. Born on June 1, 1948, in Imus, Cavite, and raised firmly by his parents, Ping has grown up to embrace the values of integrity and discipline.

In spite of financial difficulties, his parents were determined to seeing all their children finish school. Lacson spent three years taking BS Engineering at the Lyceum of the Philippines (1964-1967). Thereafter, he has sternly decided to pursue the police career at the Philippine Military Academy (1967-1971).

After graduation, he joined the Philippine Constabulary. He has continually engaged in other military activities with the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group during Martial Law (1971-1986), and the PC-INP Anti-Carnapping Task Force (1986-1988). He has taken several positions, including the Provincial Commander of the Province of Isabela (1988-1989), the Commander of Cebu Metrodiscom (1989-1992), and the Provincial Director of the Province of Laguna (February to July 1992). With his firm military leadership, he has consequently carried bigger responsibilities as Chief at the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission, Task Force Habagat (1992-1995), and again as Chief at the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (July 1998 to January 2001). Then he was finally appointed as the Philippine National Police Chief (November 1999 to January 20, 2001).

The noteworthy, efficient, and sterling service and leadership of Panfilo Lacson as Chief of PNP has gained him a number of awards and accomplishments. He has received a Cavalier Award PMAAAI (1983), Certificate of Academics Excellence, Command and General Staff College (1983), and has become the PC Metrocom Officer of the Year (1982). In addition to his awards were (2) Outstanding Achievement Medals, (5) Bronze Cross Medals, (17) Military Merit Medals, (5) Military Commendations Medals, (3) Medalya ng Kadakilaan, (3) Medalya ng Kagalingan, (2) Medalya ng Papuri, Special Medal of Honor (1988), Special Unit Award (1988), PMA Alumni Achievement Award (1998), Award of Ten Outstanding Policemen of the Philippines (1998), and other numerous awards and commendations from government and non-government agencies.

In academe, the AFP Command and General Staff College awarded him with a Certificate of Excellence. He earned his Masters in Government Management from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (1995-1996).

But Ping is not just about Mr. Stiff Police Guy. He is also a loving husband to Alice de Perio, as well as to his children Ronald Jay, Panfilo Jr., and Jeric. A stern official as he may seem, he constantly nurtures his own family with the same values his parents taught him to uphold—integrity, discipline, and service.

In effectively and persistently carrying such values from his own family through to the years of his leadership in PNP, he then applies it to the Senate where he was elected in May, 2001 up to the present.

Lacson resigned as Chief of National Police after his withdrawal of support from former President Estrada. Subsequently, he ran for Senator in the 2001 elections under the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), securing him a seat in the Senate.

After two years, he ran for President under the LDP in the 2004 general election against incumbent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. However, problems occurred due to Angara’s refusal of his presidential candidacy, preferring Fernando Poe, Jr. as the party’s presidential candidate. So, Lacson ran under the LDP – Agapito Aquino wing, and Poe under the LDP – Angara wing. Lacson ranked 3rd in the presidential election results, subordinated by Poe who ranked 2nd and Arroyo who ranked 1st.

The legislative agenda of Senator Panfilo Lacson focuses on good governance and peace and order. It aims to improve the present state and welfare of law enforcement officers in effectively discharging their duties to combat criminality.

He primarily authored three bills. The first was Senate Bill No. 1338 “Anti-Money Laundering Control Act of 2001”, which basically restrains the laundering of the proceeds of organized and sophisticated crimes into legitimate business activities, thereby enabling law enforcement authorities in charge.

Next was Senate Bill No. 1820 “Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2001”, an act which accordingly gives protection to victims of human trafficking which has become one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world, hence penalizing its perpetrators.

Third was Senate Bill No. 1358 “Alternative Youth Training Act of 2001”, which enables the government to develop programs that will teach the youth of the basic soldiery to encourage their active participation and preparedness in nation building.

Lacson also co-authored a number of bills in response to each issue recognized as vital to the public interest and security. Included were seven bills that accordingly address hasty threats to national security, as well as PNP reforms. To mention a few were the acts which criminalize terrorism, order a National Reference Card system, define the crime of firearm smuggling, and others that grant special financial assistance and benefits to police or military personnel.

Other bills that he co-authored included the exemption of government officials and employees from the secrecy of bank deposits law, preservation of free and unfettered market competition, increase of the salary of contractual workers by 50% of their monthly and/or daily compensation, establishment of the Philippine Air Force Academy (PAFA), other grants of incentives and additional insurance benefits to barangay tanod members, among others.

In spite of all his reforms and achievements, many controversial issues have been attached to him, and at times were damaging to his image, reputation and credibility. First of the most incessantly talked about were the political and extra-judicial killings in which Lacson has always been accused of allegedly being involved, particularly the Salvador “Bubby” Dacer’s murder.

Bubby Dacer was a PR consultant to such high profile figures as former President Joseph Estrada, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, among others. On November 24, 2000, while Dacer was on his way to a lunch appointment with former President Ramos, five heavily armed men stopped his car and forced him to get in the van. Four days later, Dacer’s car was found abandoned somewhere south of Manila and up to now, his body has not yet been recovered; everyone had come to believe that he was already dead.

It was believed that former President Estrada has come in conflict with Dacer over allegations that Dacer had been involved in the “3D” plot—“disinformation, disaffection, destabilization”—to undermine the presidency. In spite of Dacer’s denial of the allegations, innuendos still unfolded that Estrada, out of anger, ordered Lacson to wipe-out Dacer.

During that time, Lacson was Chief of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force. Rumors heightened that Dacer and Lacson were also not in good terms since Dacer’s decision to take on as his client, Gen. Robert Lastimoso, who was believed to be Lacson’s enemy. Also, at the time of Dacer’s abduction, he was carrying sensitive documents allegedly implicating Lacson and his men in drug-dealing, kidnapping for ransom, and summary killings.

Estrada’s 48-hour deadline to do everything to find Dacer was unmet; instead, Lacson went on an extended trip abroad. But Lacson denied all the allegations and instead responded that he never employed a publicist throughout his professional career.

Next in line of the alleged extra-judicial killings was the Kuratong Baleleng Case. The notorious Kuratong Baleleng gang robbed banks in Metro Manila and killed innocent victims along the way. Task force operations headed by Chief Supt. Jewel Canzon and then Chief Supt. Panfilo Lacson targeted the gang. While the police claimed it was a “shoot-out” of 11 members of the gang on the night of May 18, 1995, the Senate Committee on Justice, which was then headed by Raul Roco, concluded that it was a “rub-out” and recommended that Lacson and his cohorts be charged with murder.

But Lacson claimed that Canzon directed the whole operation and did not even report it to him. He said that his only direct involvement in the operations was to sign the terminal report together with the other heads of the units in the composite task force: CIS, National Capital Region, Central Police District and the Traffic Management Command.

Contrary to Arroyo’s claim that the case was never reviewed and decided, the case was duly investigated by the Ombudsman and dismissed by the RTC, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

In spite of all these allegations attaching his name to many heinous political and extra-judicial killings in the country, Lacson is still unwavering in his claims that he abides by the due process and he values the most basic human right of all, the right to life.

In a speech in 2001, Lacson said that, “It is only a strong government that can protect us from crime and violence. Only a strong government call can respect our basic human rights—civil, political, and social. And we know that government can only be as strong as it can impose—without fear, without favor—the system of criminal justice under the laws of the land.” Lacson claims to be steadfast in his crime-fighting crusade, and as mentioned earlier, he strongly supports bills that promote safety and security of the public.

Apart from those issues, Lacson is also very much involved in the Hello Garci case. In fact, he is one among 19 opposition congressmen who filed charges against Virgilio Garcillano of lying before the congressional inquiry on the wiretap controversy.

The former election commissioner Garcillano is said to be the “Garci” with whom President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was conversing about rigging the 2004 national election results in the audio recordings of the phone call conversation released in the public last June 2005.

Lacson released one of the various “Hello Garci” tapes, others included Sammy Ong’s “mother of all tapes”, Atty. Alan Paguia’s, and Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye’s “original untampered” and the “tampered” one.

Expert witness and audio recording engineer Jaime Sarthou analyzed that Sammy Ong’s three-hour “mother of all tapes” and Lacson’s hour-long “authenticated” one “synchronized as if they were one”. He concluded that they were authentic and were not tampered with.

Lacson further exposed the cheating in the elections and showed samples of what he said were questionable election results at a press conference at the Manila Hotel. He claimed that the Arroyo camp had been filling out the forms months before the elections and used them in places like Cebu, Iloilo, Pampanga, and Las Piñas. He said that four boxes of these documents are now with a “man of cloth”, but refuses to name him.

He did not say where and how he obtained the returns. Neither did he give an estimate of exactly how many votes were added to Arroyo’s count as a result of manipulation, nor did he explain how Arroyo’s camp managed the logistics of replacing the original returns with pre-fabricated ones. Rumors said that Lacson did not squeal it right after the May elections since the direct beneficiary then would be Fernando Poe, Jr.

Lacson is also one of those who claimed that Garcillano doctored his passport to make it appear that he did not leave the country at the height of the controversy. He identified the team of “fixers” in Pasay City responsible for doctoring Garcillano’s passport, specifically mentioning Senior Supt. Asher Dolina, former Pasay City police chief, whom Lacson asserted to have delivered Garcillano’s passport on orders from Malacañang.
He said that he would sue Garcillano for falsifying his passport. “My lawyers are now getting together to collate all documents and prepare the criminal complaint against Garcillano. If the documentation is completed immediately, we will file the case because any taxpayer in this country can file a complaint against him,” Lacson said in a press release.

Lacson has been identified as an opposition to the Government ever since, which is why he is at the forefront of those who oppose the proposition of Charter Change by the Malacañang.

He noted that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must really push for CHA-CHA, a “character change” for the better by the incumbent President. He then reiterated that the people were “too tired” to take the President’s word on anything.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and its allies in Congress resumed calls to amend the Constitution only after the Church-led rally on December 17, 2006. But Lacson noted that the President had already issued a statement even before the rally, claiming that now is not the right time to amend the Constitution. However, since the rally failed to gather its target attendance of 500,000 people, the President now dares to brand Charter Change again as “a matter of paramount interest.”

In a press release on Tuesday, December 19, 2006, Lacson said that, “I had prayed that Mrs. Arroyo would indeed have some kind of character change. Indeed, she underwent character change but it was a change for the worse. Not only did she continue lying. She has now started to lie brazenly.”

Lacson believes that if ever the Charter Change will push through, it must resume in due process. He mentioned that in the first place, a Constituent Assembly will require both Houses of Congress to separately issue resolutions for a joint session.

He said that he will be one with other senators in filing a petition with the Supreme Court questioning the move of Malacañang and its allies in the Lower House of Congress for a so-called Constituent Assembly. “I’ll be one with the other senators or with the whole Senate for that matter. This is not the first case where senators joined hands in filing a petition seeking clarificatory interpretation from the Supreme Court. We have been united in so many petitions before, it won’t be the first time,” he said.

Regarding matters about our economy and improving the state of our country in general, Lacson mentioned a few of his reforms when he ran for presidency during the 2004 general elections.

At that time, the Kilospasabay group based in Riyadh invited Lacson to attend the forum, “Kumustahan sa Jeddah”, with members of the Filipino community in Jeddah on July 7, 2003. He arrived in the Kingdom together with Representatives Agapito “Butz” Aquino of Makati and Didagen Dilangalen of Cotabato.

At the forum, one of the participants asked Lacson, “How would you intend to fix the Philippine economy so Overseas Filipino Workers who want to return home for good can do so without a feeling of uncertainty?” He then said that part of his overall plan was to address the government’s budget deficit through tax reforms and most especially by going after crooks in government agencies.

Lacson believes that the government is incurring huge deficits because many of the tax collectors are pocketing much of what they collect. “Kayo ang mga bagong bayani, ngunit sila ang namamayani,” he said at the forum.

He advocated the speedy completion of investigations into charges of graft and corruption. He explained that our economy is vastly affected by such other issues as well. Part of his plans then also comprised the introduction of the electronic procurement system in all government agencies as well as government-owned and controlled corporations, and the complete computerization of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs.

With regards to foreign policies in agreement with our country, Lacson was one of the first who dissented at how the President responded in relation to the transfer of the convicted rapist Lance-Corporal Daniel Smith from Manila City Jail to the U.S. Embassy last December 29, 2006, due to the Supreme Court’s disapproval of the U.S. government’s request of Smith’s custody under the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Lacson said to one of the reporters of the Philippine Daily Tribune, “Let us not surrender our country’s sovereignty and dignity in the face of a threatening super power. If like Mrs. Arroyo we cave in to this threat, we have no business talking about self-respect and love for our country. It is now the national dignity and sovereignty that have been trampled upon, thanks but no thanks to Mrs. Arroyo.”

He further infuriated when the U.S. government cancelled the Balikatan exercises and suspended its economic and military aid, pulling out its troops assisting the thousands of calamity victims in Bohol. “The country’s policy makers would be well advised not to be cowed by this arrogant political blackmail being committed by the United States government against an equally sovereign state over an issue that involves our own justice system,” Lacson said in a press release last December 23, 2006.

It is noted that Lacson is one of the seven members of the Senate committee in the whole Legislative Oversight Committee for the VFA, headed by Miriam Defensor-Santiago as chairman and Rofolfo Biazon as co-chairman.

Lacson has always been tagged with “kamay na bakal” because of his image of being steadfast with the law. But in spite of his so-called mighty fist, he also has a soft heart for the education of primary and secondary schools in the country. In fact, he even co-authored Senate Bills Nos. 847 and 836 concerning the stability of textbook publishing as well as mandating computer subjects as compulsory in both elementary and high schools, respectively.

“We have to strengthen our primary and secondary educational system so that the requirements for gainful employment need not include finishing tertiary school level. At present, even clerical, manual and other jobs require a college degree, which is often unattainable to poor families. Ideally, a high school diploma should be enough to land a low-paying job. Emphasis on vocational training will be adhered to by our school system, so as to enhance skills for gainful employment,” he said in a press release.

In promoting a better educational system, Lacson is again at the forefront of those fighting against the textbook scam. He primarily suspected that a syndicate is controlling the bidding in the book procurement program for public elementary and high schools, which was funded by a grant from the World Bank. He urged the Department of Education to investigate the activities of a number of publishing companies, particularly the Vibal Publishing House, Inc., that monopolize the bidding process. Lacson stressed in an interview that since monopoly stifles competition, the products, in this case the textbooks, suffer in quality. Moreover, prices correspondingly increase.

As a result, allegations of defective textbooks surged as investigated by the Department of Education. Based from investigations, of 40 textbooks found defective, 34 were printed by Watana Phanit, 5 by Daewoo International, and one by Vibal. Lacson also batted for diligence by those tasked to review books for errors that students may accept as fact. He said, “We hope the concerned agencies become diligent enough to really correct errors, or at least impose sanctions on suppliers and publishers that commit errors.”

Lacson also said that Congress should take action to correct discrimination against Filipino publishers and suppliers who do not get paid until after the books have been delivered, as compared to foreign publishers and suppliers, particularly the Vibal group of companies, which get paid immediately.

Last but not least, Lacson also affirmed his support for programs promoting reproductive health. As a matter of fact, he even co-authored Senate Bill No. 1546, which creates a reproductive health and population management council for an implementation of an integrated policy on reproductive health. Thus, his support for family planning programs as well, only those that conform to the principles of the Constitution and in accordance with the religious convictions of the family.

In a session at the Senate on November 25, 2002, Lacson emphasized that he will certainly fight any legislative proposal that will legalize abortion. He believes that the Senate, or the whole of Congress for that matter, “should all fight any legislative move or proposal that will allow the use of drugs or contraceptives that intend to kill or terminate an unborn child showing or having signs of life at the first instance.” He therefore values the basic human right of all—the right to life.

Certainly, there is more to Lacson that just his sternness in compliance to the law. Throughout his years of service to the PNP as Chief, he has proven that his crime-fighting crusade will go against stiff walls, investigate unlawful acts, detain crooks, and probe on powerful tycoons for the protection of the public. When he was elected as Senator, he supported bills that promote the improvement of our economy, advance our educational system, secure peace and order in the country, and protect the civil and human rights of our people. He extensively reaches out to all matters, deliberates on absolutely each and every issue, concerning primarily the public’s interest and security, and endeavors to uphold human rights in all his programs and reforms. Now, he strives to prove once again to the public how much more he can do for the country. He therefore affirms to achieve the best for us, Filipinos…Panfilo Lacson, truly a man with determination, without favor, without fear.—Anne Marjorie Garces

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