Another Panfilo Lacson dud
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-09-18

From all indications, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson’s “Road to Nowhere” Monday privileged speech was not only a dud but was also written by a brain that will likely get nowhere.

Sen. Ping Lacson was bristling with Biblical fire and brimstone last Monday, live on ANC. However, in the end, his exposé was what William Shakespeare described as all sound and fury signifying nothing.

Through all the innuendos and direct tirades Lacson launched against Senate President Manuel “Manny” Villar — at one low point even challenging Villar’s manhood — Lacson failed to present a single shred of proof that the Senate President committed a crime. It was not only sloppy Senate reporting but one that could be called sloppy police work as well.

For one who prides himself as a top cop, that “Road to Nowhere” presentation was a big letdown that matches other Ping Lacson letdowns, from Jose Pidal (when he failed to protect his main witness) all the way to that other dud he presented during the ZTE Senate hearings.

Ping Lacson played to the gladiator’s gallery, the mob seeking blood. He claimed that his exposé was not about presidential ambitions but his entire delivery was obviously aimed at building a presidential image of being tough on graft and corruption. Rather than present facts to support his claim of a double C-5 Road Extension appropriation via an insertion — Lacson rattled off goodies that could have been acquired with the fictitious ‘stolen’ money.

Unless Ping Lacson can present something better, his so-called exposé is nothing more than a cheap shot. And you know that it is a cheap shot by the fact that the regime spontaneously agreed to attend the C-5 Road Extension Senate probe, quite the opposite of regime resistance to attending Senate probes. If the Arroyo regime knows that there was no anomaly in that insertion, then the Senate probe presents a golden opportunity to discredit and demolish Lacson.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile, remarked on the floor that insertions were normal and not anomalous. Ponce-Enrile even mentioned that all but six of the senators made their respective insertions in the 2008 budget.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said that it was, in fact, Lacson who signed the bicameral report on that appropriation and that Villar’s signature was not in that bicameral report. Villar is not a bicam member.

Andaya was puzzled why Lacson was making all that fuss over something that he (Lacson) could have questioned then and refused to sign. Andaya also questioned Lacson’s timing. Some would call that a case of bad faith on the part of Lacson.

Two congressmen, one from the administration (Rep. Ed Zialcita) and the other from the Opposition (Rep. Roy Golez), representing the area the road will pass defended the appropriation.

A Senior Public Works Undersecretary, Manuel Bonoan, clarified that the two appropriations were two P200 million components of the C-5 road extension project. In other words, there was no double entry of the same appropriation because one P200 million component was for the C-5 to SLEX Extension while the other P200 million component was for the C-5 to the Coastal Road Extension.

Lacson’s support in the Senate basically came from the same group that has been trying to oust Manny Villar as Senate President after the May 2007 Senate elections.

In my Sunday (September 14 “What, me worry?”) column, I called Sen. Ping Lacson to task for his tendency to make the unimportant important and important unimportant, to use the favorite phrase of Prof. Manoling Q. Yap when Yap describes the leadership failure of our country. I was hoping that Sen. Lacson would apply his top cop skills in further exposing the US hand in Mindanao where we risk losing a vital part of our country’s territory.

Really, what constitute Sen. Lacson’s priorities? Is destabilizing Manny Villar more important to Lacson (because of Lacson’s burning ambition to become president) than preserving Philippine territory?

To destabilize Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), Lacson was willing to get involved in the Aragoncillo spying activity in the US. How come Sen. Lacson does not want to use his network and skills to protect our country from losing Mindanao?

Is this not sufficient ground with which to question his judgment, if not his patriotism altogether?

Sen. Lacson will do well to review his methods. Considering that there is already an “exposé fatigue” in the country, he will do well to study if a thousand more of the same will get his presidential ambition on the road to somewhere beside the Pasig River.

I don’t think so.
To begin with, these exposés may have served Lacson’s Senate campaign but that is not quite the same when it comes to his presidential ambition. Awareness and recall are what are most needed in order to top Senate elections, but that is not quite the same when it comes to presidential elections.

Presidential elections are all about values, not just awareness and recall. A president is many things to many people. How a candidate projects those values determines how many people will vote for him or her as president.

Catching crooks in government can get Lacson the image of tough on graft and corruption but that, at best, gets him top cop (not chief executive) honors. Sen. Lacson has not addressed the bigger issues — his image of too much blood on his hands and his doubtful qualifications in solving the economic problem.

Sen. Lacson may be have been deluded into thinking that he has risen above the Kuratong Baleleng rubout and the Dacer-Corbito murders which have been tagged to him, rightly or wrongly. The exposés made by columnist Mon Tulfo against Lacson are more than enough to scare most people from even thinking of him as their president. A thousand more exposés will not erase this fear from the public mind.

It is no different from GMA reading Bible truth on television everyday and hoping that Filipinos will forget that she has uttered falsehoods more than once to the nation.

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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