SEN. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, a former director-general of the Philippine National Police (PNP), used to hunt down criminals.

He was feared in the underworld. He dismantled crime syndicates, like the Kuratong Baleleng Gang. His life as a law enforcer was even made into a blockbuster movie starring the late action star Rudy Fernandez.

During his early days at the defunct Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police, Lacson, together with some of his mistahs from the Philippine Military Academy ’71, was assigned to the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) headed by then Col. Rolando Abadilla. The MIG was the most feared military unit by communists and left-leaning organizations, as the unit was allegedly behind the series of abductions, disappearances and tortures of members of the underground movement.

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When he was assigned in Cebu as Metrodiscom commander in the early ‘90s, Lacson was well-loved by Cebua-nos because of his several accomplishments and achievements, especially in maintaining peace and order in his area of responsibility and his strict policy of disciplining erring officers. At one time, Lacson rescued a kidnapped victim, a son of a Chinese businessman. He refused to accept the “goodwill” money offered by the victim’s parents. He was also declared an adopted son of Cebu. After serving as PNP chief under the Estrada administration, Lacson joined politics and was elected senator.

He is now on his second term. He unsuccessfully joined the presidential race in 2004.

How times have changed. From being a criminal hunter, Lacson is now being hunted by former colleagues in law enforcement after a warrant of arrest for a double murder case was issued against him. He was tagged as the mastermind in the abduction and murder of public relations man Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, almost a decade ago.

They say it’s karma, and Lacson is paying for his “sins,” especially his alleged involvement in human rights violations.

But in fairness, Lacson was never convicted of torturing and killing criminals. Maybe these allegations were true but these were never proven in court. One time, he stood on trial for the alleged “rubout” of the members of Kuratong Baleleng, but he was not convicted.

There were accusations that Lacson ordered the killing of the close relatives of the leader of the Red Scorpion Group, Joey de Leon, by throwing them out of a helicopter.

There was also that story that Lacson was the jailer of his wife Alice’s former husband. He courted Alice, while she visited the latter in jail. They got engaged. When the husband was released, he died under mysterious circumstances and Lacson was accused of being behind the killing. But these are all allegations, perhaps to discredit him.

But why did Lacson slip out of the country if he is not guilty in the Dacer-Corbito case? If his conscience is clear and he had nothing to do with the double murder, then he should have stayed in the country to face the music.

He claimed that politics is behind his current predicament, especially after he came out with a series of exposes against the Arroyo administration and First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. Well, maybe the government is trying to silence him.

But as deposed president Joseph Estrada put it: “Paweder-weder lang.” Ug sa Binisaya pa, “bawos-bawos ra man ning tanan ba.”

(bgnalzaro@gmanetwork.com)