Lacson: No reason to doubt Duterte claim on generals

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said President Rodrigo Duterte must have “good basis” for divulging the names of 5 police officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.

Lacson said he had no reason to doubt the information that reached Duterte. After all, as chief executive, Duterte has access to sensitive information.

“All I can say is, the commander-in-chief, more than anybody in this country is in the best position to have access to all these vital and sensitive information and I have no reason to doubt or question its validity,” Lacson told Rappler in a text message.

Lacson disclosed that he already encountered the same information about 2 of the 5 generals during the 2016 elections campaign period. It was some of his men from the now-defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) who provided the information, he said.

"At least two of them, I have been informed earlier (during the campaign period) by former subordinates in the defunct PAOCTF who at the time were seriously involved in anti-drug operations in their Areas Of Responsibility,” Lacson said.

The senator, however, refused to mention the 2 names, stressing that he had no means of validating the information.

But the fact that 2 names matched the President's list was not lost on the senator. For him, Duterte has good basis for his public revelation.

“All I'm saying is, since the President himself mentioned those two names among the 5, he must have good basis in what he divulged, especially if he had a different source of that information,” he said.

Lacson ran under the Liberal Party-led coalition in the last elections. Before he became PNP chief under the Estrada administration, he led the powerful PAOCTF that ran after kidnappers and drug dealers.

Duterte, earlier on Tuesday, identified the following 5 police officials as linked to drugs: retired Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr, former National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Superintendent Joel Pagdilao, former Quezon City Police District Office director Chief Superintendent Edgardo Tinio, former Western Visayas police chief Chief Superintendent Bernardo Diaz, and Vic Loot, who is now mayor of Daanbantayan, Cebu.

Pagdilao, Tinio and Diaz denied the allegations. (READ: Generals to Duterte: We're not involved in illegal drugs)

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said he will investigate the 3 who are in active service: Pagdilao, Tinio and Diaz. The retired, Garbo and Loot, can be tried in civilian courts, he added.

Garbo and Diaz were among the police generals seen in a hotel at the height of the May elections campaign, the same hotel where Mar Roxas' campaign staff were also seen meeting. Diaz was at the time police chief of Western Visayas, a bailiwick of Roxas. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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