MALACANANG on Friday dismissed that the appointment of National Bureau and Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula was meant to prepare for the comeback of Senator Panfilo Lacson.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda explained that feelers of Lacson's surrender were already made long before the appointment of Gatdula.
"I do not believe that there is any relevance to the appointment of Mr. Gatdula," Lacierda said on Gatdula's appointment, which was announced by Executive Secretary Pacquito Jojo Ochoa.
Gatdula once served as deputy chief of Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force headed by Lacson when he was still the concurrent chief of Philippine National Police (PNP).
There have been doubts that a special treatment will be given to Lacson who is reportedly coming back to the country to surrender to Gatdula.
Denying such qualms, Lacierda said Lacson could get fair treatment under the Aquino administration even if Gatdula was not appointed to the NBI.
For his part, Ochoa said Gatdula was apt for the position due to his exemplary job as former director of Quezon City Police District.
"He is a lawyer and a gentleman. We believe in his capacity. I can attest to his capability. He has done so much at the QCPD," he said.
Ochoa assured that no political accommodation will be given to Lacson who is facing double murder charges in connection with the death of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.
"If political accommodation means you'll break a leg and try to move around, skirt around, circumvent this and that, or what might be, I don't think we will do that," he noted.
He also said that Gatdula's appointment was endorsed by Quezon City Represenative Feliciano Belmonte. Gatdula was a member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1976.
For her part, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima defended the decision of Aquino. She said: "The President's wish and decision has to be respected. We have to respect the choice of the president. It is for the interest of the public."
She believes in giving Gatdula a chance to prove that he would be impartial in the investigation of cases pending before the bureau.
"It would be unfair at this point to have that kind of thinking. Bigyan natin siya ng chance," she said.
Another ally of Senator Lacson was also appointed by President Aquino in his government.
Angelito Banayo, who was Lacson's campaign manager when he ran for presidency in 2004, was appointed by Aquino as administrator of National Food Authority (NFA).
Lacierda also denied that Banayo's appointment has something to do with Lacson.
He said Banayo had been instrumental during the campaign of President Aquino last elections.
"Mr. Banayo shared the common vision of Senator Aquino and we all believe that Senator Aquino will be the best person to lead the country. We just like to emphasize that there's no bearing on his work with Senator Lacson," he noted.
"We believe in his advocacies so kung may pipiliin siyang tao, siguro ang unang pipiliin po niya at ang natural na pipiliin niya 'yung mga taong naniniwala sa kanya," the Palace official said.
Some of the newly appointed officers of President Aquino were retired Army Major General trifonio Salazar as Director General of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and retired Brigadier General Cesar Garcia Jr. as National Security Adviser.
The two both served under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Ochoa related that the President chooses his official based on credentials and not on whom they have served. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)