THE one and only time I saw Sen. Panfilo Lacson in person was when he was still chief of the now defunct Cebu Metrodiscom in the late ‘80s. I won’t go into the details of that “run in” but it did give me a glimpse of the man that would become controversial later. Lacson at that time was well-respected because of his efficiency in solving major crimes.

His trusted man, Michael Ray Aquino, was still a skinny captain then. When he was not in uniform, like when he was doing intelligence work, he looked like a fresh college graduate.

Aquino and a few Metrodiscom people (including a relative, Elvin) were later be recruited by Lacson to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.

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One impression that I got about Lacson at that time was that of an “evader.” I was under “rehab” in a military camp then and stories about Lacson being conveniently out of the country every time his “mistahs” of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) launched coups against then president Cory Aquino. One of the mutinies rocked Cebu.

That’s why I could not help but smile when I heard reports about Sen. Gregorio Honasan advising Lacson to master the art of disguise. Lacson, as we know, is now considered a fugitive of the law in connection with the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

Gringo, on the other hand, was a fugitive a few times as leader of various mutinies.

Lacson and Honasan belong to PMA Class ‘71. They followed different paths to the Senate. Gringo, who became popular as one of the “heroes” of the 1986 Edsa people power uprising, first became a mutineer before winning a Senate seat. Lacson rose through the ranks and became Philippine National Police Chief before becoming senator.

Lacson can therefore be considered a late bloomer compared with Honasan as far as being a fugitive is concerned. As we Cebuanos would say, Si Lacson padung pa pero si Gringo nakapauli na.

The difference is that Honasan ran afoul with the law for his beliefs while Lacson is wanted by the law for a crime allegedly committed while he was still a top cop.

The last time Gringo evaded the law, he was later arrested while jumping out of a window (or was it over a fence?). If Lacson is abroad as many people believe, we have no way of knowing how his hiding episode will end. But the irony in his predicament is apparent, not to say tragic: a law enforcer ending up as a fugitive of the law.

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