A Lacson inquisition desperately seeking heat diversion
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-04-21

Senator Mar Roxas was part of the senate group that called for the ‘Double Insertion’ investigation against fellow Presidentiable Manny Villar. But even Mar could not stomach the wrongdoing in the recent issuance of the Senate Ethics Committee complaint against Senator Villar.

Mar cited a case of double standard in asking the accused former Senate President to comment even before a hearing had been conducted to decide the merits of the complaint. Roxas was quoted: “Let us first establish form and substance (through a hearing) in the complaint before we go out and ask people to respond.”

In an April 16 on-air ANC Channel telephone interview, Sen. Nene Pimentel noted that what is unethical in the Ethics Committee complaint against Villar is the unethical manner it was issued before any hearing of the merits.

From where your Chair Wrecker sits, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson’s glaringly overeager investigation against Senator Manny Villar reeks of a desperate attempt to divert heat and public attention from the Dacer-Corbito murders.

Cezar Mancao, a former PNP (Philippine National Police) officer serving then under Lacson, implicated the Senator from Cavite in the double murders. On the basis of Mancao’s affidavit, the daughters of Bubby Dacer formally filed a complaint with the Justice Department to make Lacson account for the allegations of Mancao.

Lacson will be facing a jail term if found guilty. But even before this case gets to trial and reaches a possible conviction, the controversy effectively dooms Lacson’s burning ambition to become president. He may not even win as a Barangay Captain due to the fallout. In politics, the Court of Public Opinion can be harsher than a Court of Law.

What is particularly hurting Lacson’s cause is his track record of being associated with a series of violent incidents. From his association with the late Col. Rolando Abadilla (Chief Enforcer of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos), Lacson has been linked to a blood trail – the most scandalous of which was the Kuratong Baleleng (believed to be) rubout.

In a Court of Law, you will need to prove these cases with solid evidence. But in the Court of Public Opinion, you cannot dictate on the public mind what to think. There is the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court to seek the reversal of an unfavorable judgment. There are no such courts in the Court of Public Opinion.

The early SWS and Pulse Asia 2010 Presidential Polls showed that Lacson has not been in the top four of perceived presidential candidates. His ratings were never far from the 10% who voted for him when he ran for president in 2004. If this resistance is already being encountered by Lacson, imagine what the Dacer-Corbito case will do to his 2010 candidacy.

How many of those who don’t even consider voting for Panfilo Lacson as President in 2010 will ever consider voting for him now? How many of those who are keeping an open mind to voting for Lacson will decide to shut him out completely? How many of those who have previously expressed a desire to vote for Lacson will still stick to their decision after hearing Mancao’s testimony?

We must wonder then just what this Senate Ethics Committee probe on Villar (and Sen. Richard Gordon who is also set to be probed) will do to reverse or at least lessen Lacson’s present woes. His very presence as Ethics Committee Chair is cause to doubt if the probe will be fair at all.

How credible will Sen. Lacson be in conducting an ethics probe on Senators Villar and Gordon when the two happen to be his rivals for the 2010 presidency?

When then Senate Finance Committee Chair Juan Ponce-Enrile convened a hearing to investigate Senator Manny Villar’s alleged double insertion for the C-5 Road Extension Project, Lacson was not able to prove his charges and Enrile saw no further need for a subsequent hearing. It now appears that Lacson asked to chair the Ethics Committee to be able to save face and further erode Villar’s high standing in the presidential derby.

What adds to Lacson’s credibility problem is his track record of making sensational accusations which end up proving nothing. He proved nothing against First Gentleman Mike Arroyo when he presented the Jose Pidal expose. His star witness recanted. He brought into the ZTE Hearings a bogus witness which eroded public interest in the scandal.

It got so bad that a friend of mine who loves to imagine conspiracies wondered if Sen. Lacson is not playing double agent for the Arroyo regime. My friend recounted how Lacson pressed the issues against Mike Arroyo but proved nothing. Lacson insisted on running and dividing the 2004 Opposition vote and Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo benefited from it.

“Everybody is presumed innocent until defended by Atty. Rene Saguisag,” the joke went around after my friend Rene found himself defending highly-controversial clients.

Methinks that if you have something to be guilty of, whether it is a mega overprice or a swindle, the best thing that can happen to you these days is to engineer an investigation spearheaded by Sen. Ping Lacson. Going by his track record, the odds are heavily in your favor that the Lacson investigation will not prove anything.

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