>News Update Lacson: Corruption exists in the PNP

>Senator Panfilo Lacson, still in hiding in connection with the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, on Wednesday bared alleged corruption in the Philippine National Police (PNP) similar to that in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In his statement, Lacson said there is a P40-million “commander’s reserve” at the exclusive disposal of the PNP chief, a position he held from November 1999 to January 2001.

He said his monthly gas allowance during that time was equivalent to the consumption of 50 vehicles or more, even if they are allowed to run 24 hours a day.

He likewise said that he was “presented” with a high credit card limit with the information that he could use it both for personal and official purposes.

Lacson, however, noted that he never availed of any these alleged privileges. “I was never interested,” he said.

He also said he did not receive send-off money similar to what some AFP chiefs of staff allegedly received when they retired from service.

Like the military generals accused of receiving payoffs, Lacson was a product of the Philippine Military Academy (Class 1971).

“ICU” police officers

In his statement, he explained that he instructed his then director for comptrollership, now Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, to treat the reserved fund as part of the general fund for “personnel welfare and other operational activities of the command.” He said that he also ordered the excess gas allowance to be downloaded to their frontline units.

He added that he asked his then office administrative officer Chief Inspector Asper Cabula to return the credit card with clear instructions not to activate it.

“Instead of enjoying these ‘perks,’ I focused on getting rid the police ranks of the ICU’s (inept, corrupt and undisciplined police officers) and providing a no-nonsense law enforcement service to our people,” he said.

Lacson also said that he focused on eliminating the kotong culture prevalent among street cops at that time.

Strike the iron while it’s hot

Also in his statement, Lacson asked President Benigno Aquino III to take advantage of the issues currently hounding the military and order a thorough investigation into how government agencies, including the police force, spend taxpayers’ money.

“I call on President Benigno Aquino III to seize this unusual opportunity of his time … by including all other agencies of the national government in an extensive accounting of how the taxpayers’ money are being spent,” he said.

Lacson said he strongly supports the proposal to expand the Senate investigation on the alleged corruption in the AFP to include the PNP.

Lacson in hiding

Lacson remains in hiding even after the Court of Appeals had earlier granted his petition to dismiss the double murder case lodged against him for the November 2000 Dacer-Corbito killings.

In an interview on Wednesday, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he cannot tell Lacson what to do but that if it were him in the fugitive senator’s place, he would surface.

“If I were in his place, I will come out. If they will arrest me, I will take them to the Supreme Court,” he said.

He likewise said that it would be better if Justice Secretary Leila de Lima herself would convince Lacson to surface.

“(If I were her) I will not prolong the deprivation of liberty of a person if I’m in doubt about the strength of the evidence,” he said.

The Senate had earlier suspended the salary and office budget of Lacson.

Enrile, however, said that they will restore everything once the senator comes back.

An ethics complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) against Lacson is pending before the Senate committee on ethics and privileges. — KBK/RSJ

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