Panfilo Lacson

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The Honorable
Panfilo Lacson
Panfilo Lacson PARR cropped.jpg
Lacson in 2016
Senator of the Philippines
Assumed office
June 30, 2016
In office
June 30, 2001 – June 30, 2013
Chair of the Philippine Senate
Games, Amusement and Sports Committee
Assumed office
July 25, 2016
Preceded by Sonny Angara
Chair of the Philippine Senate
Public Order and
Dangerous Drugs Committee
Assumed office
July 25, 2016
Preceded by Grace Poe
Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery
In office
December 10, 2013 – February 10, 2015
President Benigno Aquino III
Director-General of the Philippine National Police
In office
November 16, 1999 – January 20, 2001
Preceded by Edmundo L. Larroza
Succeeded by Leandro Mendoza
Personal details
Born Panfilo Morena Lacson
(1948-06-01) June 1, 1948 (age 69)
Imus, Cavite, Philippines
Nationality Filipino
Political party Independent (2004-2007; 2007-2013; 2016-)
UNO (2007)
LDP (2001-2004)
Spouse(s) Alice de Perio
Children 4
Alma mater Lyceum of the Philippines University
Philippine Military Academy
Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila
Website Official Facebook page
Military service
Allegiance Flag of the Philippines.svg Republic of the Philippines
Service/branch Philippine Constabulary
Philippine National Police
Rank General Director General

Panfilo "Ping" Morena Lacson, Sr. (born June 1, 1948) is a Philippine senator who served from 2001 to 2013 and again from 2016 to the present; and a retired Filipino police officer who headed the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001.

In December 2013, Lacson was appointed by Philippines President Benigno Aquino III as Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, to lead the management and rehabilitation efforts of the central provinces in the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan.[1] Eight months into his job, Lacson secured the approval from Aquino of the phased implementation of the rehabilitation plan of six areas in the Typhoon Yolanda corridor including those in Tacloban, Leyte, Samar and Cebu.

Early life and guiding principle[edit]

Panfilo Morena Lacson was born in Imus, Cavite on June 1, 1948.[2]

He finished grade school at the Bayang Luma Elementary School in 1960 and high school at the Imus Institute in 1964. He completed his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy degree at the Lyceum of the Philippines University before entering the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in 1967.[2] Now-senator Gregorio Honasan was his classmate.[3][4]

After his graduation in 1971, Lacson was commissioned in the Philippine Constabulary (PC), then a major service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) responsible for maintaining peace and order and enforcement of laws in the country.[2]

In 1996 he earned a postgraduate degree of Master in Government Management from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.[2]

In March 2016, Lacson disclosed his late mother Maxima instilled discipline in him and his siblings, along with a sense of right and wrong. This would become part of his personal motto, "What is right must be kept right; what is wrong must be set right." [5]

Police career[edit]

Lacson worked at the PC Metropolitan Command (Metrocom), Intelligence and Security Group (MISG), from 1971 to 1986. The MISG was commanded by the late Colonel Rolando Abadilla. Lacson rose through the ranks, becoming lieutenant colonel in the mid-1980s. After the 1986 People Power Revolution, he served at the PC-INP Anti-Carnapping Task Force as its commander from 1986–1988, as Provincial Commander of the Province of Isabela from 1988–1989, and as Commander of the Cebu Metropolitan District Command (Metrodiscom) from 1989–1992. In 1991, he joined the then-newly created civilian Philippine National Police, or PNP, formed as a result of the merger of the military Philippine Constabulary and the civilian Integrated National Police or INP. (The INP was formed in 1975 as an integration of all local police forces in the country then under operational control of the PC.) Soon Lacson became Provincial Director of the Province of Laguna from February to July 1992. Afterwards, he was appointed Chief of Task Force Habagat at the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission from 1992 to 1995. From 1996 to April 1997, he was given the task of project officer of "Special Project Alpha."

Chief, PNP (1999-2001)[edit]

As Chief PNP, Lacson eliminated the “Kotong culture” among the police officers. He rationalized the distribution of financial and logistical resources by downloading 85 percent to the police frontline units, retaining only 15 percent in the police headquarters. He imposed a no-nonsense and strict physical fitness test on all PNP members, invoking the now-famous 34-inch maximum waistline for all the police officers.

Lacson also demonstrated a high sense of integrity, and led by example. He consistently refused to accept bribe money from illegal gambling operators and contractors and suppliers transacting business with the PNP, even declining offers of monetary rewards from grateful kidnap-for-ransom victims after rescuing them from their captors. [6]

Under Lacson's leadership, the PNP achieved a high 58% public approval rating, while Lacson got a 78% approval rating for himself. [7]

Kuratong Baleleng case[edit]

In 1995, the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) was linked to the killing of 11 members of Kuratong Baleleng in Quezon City. In 2003, the High Tribunal ordered the Quezon City Regional Trial Court to try the case against Lacson and 33 other police officials. The trial court however dismissed the criminal case, finding absence of probable cause. The special prosecuting team later moved for new trial before the High Tribunal to remand case to the trial court to present new evidence against Senator Lacson, inter alia. On May 2, 2008, the Supreme Court of the Philippines resolved to take cognizance of the motion of the families of the slain Kuratong Baleleng members for revival of the murder case against police officials and Senator Panfilo Lacson.[8]

On November 13, 2012, the Supreme Court in an en banc decision denied the government's motion to revive the case and affirmed the lower court"s decision dismissing it.[9]

Dacer–Corbito Murder Case[edit]

On November 24, 2000, publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito were abducted in Makati City. In April 2001, their burnt corpses were found by a creek in Indang, Cavite. The Department of Justice filed double murder charges against Police Senior Superintendent Michael Ray Aquino and other police officers, including Senior Superintendent Cezar Mancao II and Senior Superintendent Glenn Dumlao - all members of Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) headed by then Police Director-General Panfilo Lacson.[10][11]

In his 2001 affidavit, Senior Superintendent Glenn Dumlao implicated then President Joseph Estrada and then Director-General Panfilo Lacson in the Dacer–Corbito Murder Case. Both Estrada and Lacson denied their involvement.[11]

In 2009, Former Police Senior Superintendent Cezar Mancao II named Lacson as the mastermind of the murders of Salvador Dacer and Emmanuel Corbito. The allegations were made in an affidavit that Mancao signed on February 14, 2009. Mancao was allegedly present when Lacson gave the hit order to then Police Senior Superintendent Michael Ray Aquino sometime in October 2000.[12]

Lacson denied these allegations, stating that the Office of the President had pressured Mancao to sign the affidavit.[12]

On January 5, 2010, Lacson left the Philippines on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong, shortly before charges against him were filed in court.[13][14][15] He became a fugitive for the next fifteen months. He had been spotted in Hong Kong and Rome but was never apprehended.[16][17]

On February 5, 2010, Branch 18 of the Regional Trial Court in Manila issued an arrest warrant against him.[18] On February 11, 2010, Interpol issued a Red Notice for Lacson.[19][20][21]

On February 3, 2011, the Court of Appeals withdrew the murder charges against the senator. Its decision cited Mancao as "not a credible and trustworthy witness".[22] Mancao has since turned fugitive after escaping from the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation on May 2013.[23][24]

Lacson returned to the country on March 26, 2011, a month after the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' ruling on the case.[25][26][27]

In a 2015 interview with the media, Mancao (still a fugitive) apologized to Lacson and Estrada for linking them in the Dacer–Corbito murders, admitting that he had no personal knowledge on the supposed involvement of the two. He also claimed that he was forced by the Arroyo administration to implicate their names.[28][29]

Political career[edit]

Estrada Cabinet[edit]

Lacson was appointed by then President Joseph Estrada to head the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) and to serve as Director-General of the Philippine National Police. Lacson's notable accomplishments were the reduction of corrupt policemen (Kotong Cops) and various organized crime syndicates engaged in kidnapping, drug trafficking, and other nefarious activities. From April 30 to May 1, 2001, together with Juan Ponce Enrile, Gregorio Honasan, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Tito Sotto, he led the EDSA III protests in support of Joseph Estrada.[30][31] On May 1, 2001, the protesters stormed Malacañang Palace.[31]

First Senate terms, anti-pork advocacy (2001-2013)[edit]

Lacson in 2011

Lacson ran for senator in the 2001 elections under the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), which was affiliated with Estrada's Puwersa ng Masa coalition. He won a seat in the Senate, finishing in tenth place.

In late 2006, Lacson said he may run as mayor of the city of Manila in the 2007 midterm elections. However, he rescinded that decision and instead ran for re-election for a second Senate term under the Genuine Opposition coalition. He won reelection in the 2007 senatorial elections senatorial elections, ranking third.

During this time, Lacson proved himself unique by forgoing his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel. On March 11, 2003, he delivered a privilege speech entitled Living Without Pork, exposing the evils and temptations presented by the pork barrel system, and called for its total abolition. During deliberations on the national budget, he would make sure his PDAF allocation reverted to the National Treasury - in the process saving the government some PhP2.4 billion during his first 12 years in the Senate.

In the Senate, Lacson primarily authored the following:

  • Republic Act No. 9160, as amended by Republic Act 9194, otherwise known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act
  • Republic Act No. 9163, The National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001
  • Republic Act No. 9166, An Act Increasing the Base Pay of the Members of the AFP
  • Republic Act No. 9208, The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003
  • Republic Act No. 9416, Anti-Cheating Act of 2007
  • Republic Act No. 9484, The Philippine Dental Act of 2007
  • Republic Act No. 9485, Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007

He was also one of the co-authors of the following laws:

  • Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002
  • Republic Act No. 9189, otherwise known as the Absentee Voting Act
  • Republic Act No. 9287, otherwise known as the Anti-Jueteng and Illegal Numbers Game
  • Republic Act No. 9406, An Act Reorganizing the Public Attorney's Office

Lacson filed 41 bills that aimed to improve public service, enhance reproductive health, promote investments, bolster the country’s defense capabilities,

Lacson was one of the main authors of two milestone legislative measures of the Aquino administration, one of which was the Reproductive Health Act. The measure seeks to promote responsible parenthood and to protect the health of the mother and child by giving them access to reproductive health services. President Benigno Aquino III certified the bill as urgent, allowing Congress to pass it quickly. President Aquino signed it into law as Republic Act 10354 in December 2012. [32]

Another milestone legislative measure where Lacson was a main author was the Sin Tax Reform Act, which imposes higher taxes on tobacco and alcohol products to deter the public from buying such products. Those who insist on buying such products will have to pay higher taxes, whose proceeds will go to the government’s universal health program.

For the Sin Tax Reform Act, Lacson had filed Senate Bill No. 2763, which sought to restructure the excise tax on alcohol products; and Senate Bill No. 2764, which sought to restructure the excise tax on tobacco products. President Aquino signed the bill into law as Republic Act 10351. [33]

Lacson authored Senate Bill No. 2783, which strengthened further the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001. His work is now part of Republic Act No. 10167, which was approved and signed into law on June 18, 2012. [34]

Lacson also authored a key amendment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act, which aims to provide more funds to the military for its much-needed capability buildup. President Aquino signed the measure as Republic Act 10349 on December 11, 2012. [35]

Also, Lacson filed Senate Bill No. 2993, An Act Providing for a comprehensive law on firearms, light weapons and ammunitions, which was signed into law as Republic Act 10591. [36]

Meanwhile, Lacson also authored the law converting Imus, Cavite from a municipality into a city. The measure became Republic Act No. 10161 on May 8, 2012. [37]

Lacson also filed Senate Bill No. 2945, which reapportioned the province of Cotabato into three legislative districts. The bill was passed into law as Republic Act 10177. [38]

He filed as well resolutions that led to many officials being held accountable, whether incumbent or former. Among these were:

  • Resolution No. 518: Directing the Blue Ribbon Committee to look into the alleged anomalous acquisition by the Philippine National Police of light operational helicopters in 2009. The resolution triggered an investigation that led to the filing of criminal charges against the officials and personalities linked to the questionable purchase. Some of them were dismissed from the service.
  • Resolution No. 519: Directing the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to look into corruption by the previous board of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. Many of the officials linked to the irregularity – including former President Gloria Arroyo – have been charged before the graft court.
  • Resolution No. 537: Directing the Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate electoral sabotage in the 2004 and 2007 elections, which triggered the charges that led to the arrest and detention of former officials, including former President Gloria Arroyo

Another resolution, Resolution No. 660, seeks to congratulate new Cardinal and Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

Lacson also filed resolutions commending members of the police and military for safeguarding Filipinos, including:

  • Resolution No. 542: Resolution honoring The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS) of 2011
  • Resolution No. 562: Resolution commending the Country’s Outstanding Policemen in Service (COPS) of 2011

As fiscalizer in the Senate, Lacson initiated the investigation of the following:

  • IMPSA investigation – 2002
  • Jose Pidal investigation – 2003
  • Jueteng investigation – 2005
  • Textbook Scam investigation – 2006 – 2007
  • Flight of Filipino nurses recruited by Sentosa Recruitment Agency – 2007
  • Alleged bribery in the failed impeachment bid against President Arroyo – 2007
  • Overpricing in the decorative lampposts used in the Asean summit in Cebu City – 2007
  • Irregularities in the multibillion-peso Quedancor swine program – 2008
  • Plan by the Social Security System to channel workers’ pension funds into a government economic stimulus program – 2009
  • Alleged irregularities in the purchase of video equipment for the Senate's Public Relations and Information Bureau – 2009

Presidential bid, 2004[edit]

Lacson ran for President in the 2004 general election against the incumbent President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. His candidacy stirred disagreements with its party president, Senator Edgardo Angara.[39] The COMELEC decided to follow what was done in the Quirino-Avelino case splitting the certificates of votes into half. Angara appealed the case before the Supreme Court and reversed the COMELEC decision. Lacson resigned from the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) upon hearing the news.[40]

After resigning from the LDP, Lacson continued campaigning as an independent candidate in the elections. He finished third with 10.88% of the vote; ahead of former Senator Raul Roco and Bro. Eddie Villanueva.[41]

Aquino Cabinet[edit]

In the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda, that caused widespread destruction, substantial damage and death in several areas in the country, particularly in the Visayas Region, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed Ping Lacson as Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) with the mandate of unifying the efforts of government and other agencies involved in the rehabilitation and recovery efforts. As over-all manager and coordinator of rehabilitation, recovery, and reconstruction efforts of government, his office crafted the Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) with a PhP167 Billion proposed funding, which provides for an over-all strategic vision and integrated short-term, medium-term and long-term programs in the Yolanda-affected areas. Lacson's efforts in the Yolanda rehabilitation lead to the institutionalization of certain mechanisms on rehabilitation of calamity-affected communities.

In December 2014, Lacson tendered his irrevocable resignation as PARR which took effect in February 2015. He recommended the transition of his office's accomplishments and best practices to a permanent government agency. Lacson also viewed the scheduled sunset review of Republic Act 10121, otherwise known as “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010”, as an opportune time to propose possible remedial measures that will help improve the effectiveness of the law, especially on the aspect of disaster rehabilitation and recovery.

Return to the Senate (2016-present)[edit]

Lacson originally planned to run for president in the 2016 election.[42] However, due to low ratings in most pre-election presidential surveys, he decided to run for a senate seat as an independent candidate in the 2016 Philippine general election.[43] He was a guest candidate in the senatorial slates of presidential candidates Jejomar Binay (UNA) and Mar Roxas (LP).[44][45] He was initially listed in Senator Grace Poe's senatorial line-up, but he was eventually replaced by Edu Manzano.[46][47][48] He was also listed in Rodrigo Duterte's (PDP–Laban) senatorial slate. However, in February 15, 2016, the Duterte-Cayetano tandem dropped their entire senatorial line-up.[49][50]

Lacson, who endorsed former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas' presidential campaign,[46][51] garnered around 17 million votes in the 2016 elections, earning his way to a Senate seat by ranking fourth in terms of total votes.[52]

In the 17th Congress, Lacson filed Senate Bill 40[53], the Budget Reform for Village Empowerment Act of 2016. The bill seeks to give local government units an active role in nation building by providing them with much-needed funding for their development projects.[54] With the proposed measure, Lacson envisions ending "the culture of mendicancy and political patronage" while helping realize "the elusive inclusive growth that we all aspire for as a nation."

Lacson filed Senate Bill 41[55], the National Reference Act of 2016, which seeks to establish a National ID system that can help government law enforcers deter criminality and terrorism by facilitating the processes of apprehension and prosecution. The proposed system also seeks to address the problems of constant delays and inconveniences in availing of basic public services and social security benefits due to inefficient and unreliable means of identifying the beneficiaries.[56]

Lacson also filed Senate Bill 42[57], penalizing a wide range of heinous crimes ranging from drug-related offenses to treason, terrorism and human trafficking.[58]

Meanwhile, Lacson filed Senate Bill 48[59], which seeks to amend Republic Act 4200 to update the list of crimes where wiretapping may be deemed lawful under certain circumstances. The measure may give law enforcers more teeth against dangerous crimes like drugs, money-laundering and coups.[60] On Oct. 19, 2016, Lacson sponsored Senate Bill 1210, the proposed Expanded Anti-Wiretapping Act of 2016.[61]

Other bills filed by Lacson to curb criminality and corruption include:

  • Senate Bill 252, which requires the registration of prepaid subscriber identity module (SIM) card registration to prevent scams and crimes involving identity theft.[62]
  • Senate Bill 253, which imposes heavier penalties on those giving false testimonies, to protect innocent people from being wrongly jailed or having their reputations suffer.[63]
  • Senate Bill 258, which offers substantial rewards and better protection to witnesses in exchange for coming out and testifying against government officials or employees involved in corruption.[64]
  • Senate Bill 1025, which strips drug pushers, manufacturers, cultivators, importers and financiers of their rights under the Bank Secrecy Act, so they can no longer hide their ill-gotten money in banks.[65]

Also, Lacson filed bills to ensure professionalism among law enforcers, including:

  • Senate Bills 255[66] and 266[67], which provide added benefits to barangay tanods and captains, the unheralded heroes who risk their lives to keep neighborhoods safe.
  • Senate Bill 260, which provides for special financial assistance for families or beneficiaries of police and military personnel, jail officers and firefighters killed or incapacitated in the line of duty.[68]
  • Senate Bill 971, which provides guidelines on the selection of provincial commanders and city and town chiefs of police.[69]
  • Senate Bill 1052, which seeks to restore subpoena powers to the PNP's CIDG.[70]
  • Senate Bill 1310, which gives the Philippine National Police's Internal Affairs Service more teeth to curb abuses and further enhance discipline in the police agency.[71]

Lacson also filed Senate Bill 982, which seeks to shorten processing time for applications to seven days or less.[72]

Meanwhile, Lacson filed Senate Bill 257, which assures that parents who enter their twilight years will get support from their children.[73]

Lacson also filed bills seeking to streamline or update the operations of government agencies, including:

  • Senate Bill 1470, which updates the charter of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to help it keep up with new variations of lotteries and make it more accountable.[74]
  • Senate Bill 1471, which addresses Pagcor's "conflicting" roles of regulating and operating gambling casinos by having the agency focus on regulating the industry and giving up its role as operator of such establishments.[75]

But Lacson also went after abusive law enforcers, including some rogue cops who took advantage of the government's anti-drug war. At a Senate hearing on Jan. 28, 2017, the former PNP chief showed a video of police officers in civilian clothing, appearing to plant evidence in an anti-drug operation - to stress his call for internal cleansing in the PNP.[76]

From P8.3-billion 'pork' to free SUC tuition[edit]

In late 2016, the Senate realigned P8.3 billion in the proposed 2017 national budget to cover tuition of students in state colleges and universities, after Lacson discovered and moved to take out the "pork-like" insertions made by the House of Representatives.

Lacson noted House members were allowed to identify P80 million worth of projects before the submission of the 2017 National Expenditure Program to Congress for deliberations - precisely the pork barrel system already declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.[77]

References[edit]

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