Panfilo Lacson

In a war of PowerPoints and buzzers, Lacson came prepared

Rambo Talabong

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In a war of PowerPoints and buzzers, Lacson came prepared

READY. Senator Panfilo Lacson connected through Zoom at the KBP forum on February 4, 2022.

KBP/YouTube screenshot

During the KBP forum, Senator Panfilo Lacson – to follow his analogy between campaigns and wars – shows himself a fighter well-positioned in the battlefield
In a war of PowerPoints and buzzers, Lacson came prepared

Huwag sasabak sa giyera nang hindi handa (Don’t go into a war unprepared).”

On Friday, February 4, the war zone for 2022 presidential aspirants was the forum mounted by the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), and Senator Panfilo Lacson came ready.

Buoyed by a stable internet connection that crisply showed him in an ironed white shirt and a well-lit room with a Philippine flag in the background, and armed with a smartly designed PowerPoint presentation, Lacson – to follow his analogy – showed himself a fighter well-positioned in the battlefield.

Lacson stuck to his message of being a veteran public servant bent on cleaning up the government by example.

In cleansing the government’s ranks, he consistently referred to his time as former chief of the Philippine National Police. As policeman, Lacson adopted a “no-take” policy, refusing rewards from families he helped in kidnap-for-ransom cases. He also rejected bribes from illegal gambling groups, especially jueteng groups, when he was an operative.

As a PNP chief, Lacson sought to end “kotong cops” – policemen who extorted and accepted bribes. He did this by redistributing the budget of the PNP down to police stations, and significantly reducing the budget for the national headquarters.

Asked about fixing the country’s jail system – congested, riot-prone, and at times syndicate-controlled facilities – he referred to his platform of regionalizing detention facilities and shifting the focus towards rehabilitation in the anti-drug campaign.

On questions about legislation, like the creation of the Boracay Development Authority and granting franchises for online sabong (cockfighting), he said he had honored the deliberative process of Congress, a government branch he has served in for decades.

“There is a social problem, there is a social cost…. This should be properly studied before we grant legislative franchises,” Lacson said on online sabong.

Lacson also dropped promises consistent with his advocacy for transparency to help hold officials accountable, like this: If he gets elected, the first thing he will do is waive his rights under the bank secrecy law, allowing Filipinos to take a look at his wealth.

Remember: Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to make public his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Network, violating the law that requires the disclosure. The challenge to waive secrecy on his bank accounts – following allegations that he’s had hundreds of millions of pesos in undeclared cash – has also haunted Duterte until now.

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The hardest question that hit him was one that he had been facing for years: his time as a fugitive from 2010 and 2011 in relation to the murders of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000, crimes of which he was eventually absolved.

Like he did during the Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews in January, Lacson on Friday insisted that what he did was legal, owing to the fact that he had a lawyer who “knew the law.”

Veteran journalist Ed Lingao pointed out that Lacson evading arrest was still wrong, that it still showed a bad example for Filipinos, therefore contradicting Lacson’s narrative of leading by example. (READ: Lawmaker and lawbreaker? Past haunts Lacson in GMA interview)

As he answered the questions, Lacson answered calmly and ended his responses just as the timer reached zero, unlike other candidates who were frequently cut off by the bell.

At the close of the program, Lacson rehashed a version of his quote in the beginning, leaving no loose ends in his pitch: “When the dust settles in the warzone, and all programs and platforms are heard, I sincerely hope that I presented myself as the leader we need: competent, qualified, and with a wealth of experience.” –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.