Editorial: Lacson’s appointment

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TWO things go against the appointment of former senator Panfilo Lacson as “rehabilitation czar.” One is his checkered past and the other his lack of expertise.

But President Noynoy Aquino appointed him to the post anyway, and Lacson, despite appearing to hesitate, has accepted it.

Controversies have hounded Lacson since he was commissioned by the now defunct Philippine Constabulary as official of the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG), a unit notorious for its alleged violations of human rights under the Marcos dictatorship.

Lacson was linked to the rubout of 11 Kuratong Baleleng members in 1995 when he was the head of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) created by then president Joseph Estrada. His name was also linked to the murders of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2000.

And although Lacson became senator in 2001 until June this year, his forte has been law enforcement and not post-disaster rehabilitation work, something that he acknowledged when PNoy offered him the job of rehab czar” with access to a budget of billions of pesos.

“When the President asked me if I could be in charge of rehabilitation efforts, I did not immediately say, ‘Yes,’ and asked for time to think about it because I know it’s a daunting task and it’s also not my area of expertise,” he told reporters.

Admittedly though, Lacson’s stock has risen since the multi-billion pesos pork barrel scam involving businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles was exposed. In the Senate, only Lacson and another former senator, Joker Arroyo, did not touch their pork barrel allocations during their terms.

But Arroyo was among the senators named later by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as having endorsed projects worth millions of pesos that was funded by the also controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), making Lacson as the only senator not linked to the questionable allocations during his entire stint in the Senate.

Lacson’s stock has so risen that a senator even suggested that he heads a body that would investigate the pork barrel scam.

It isn’t a surprise, therefore, that despite Lacson’s past and his lack of expertise, PNoy dared to appoint him to the said sensitive post and people’s reactions to his appointment have been largely positive.

But whether that choice is the correct one is another point altogether. That will be seen only once Lacson starts doing his job.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 05, 2013.


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