Attempts to bring a good man down

By December 26, 2021Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


SENATOR Ping Lacson was in town last Sunday, and I doggone missed it.  I had wanted to listen in to his much talked about dialogues in town hall meetings with stakeholders in public service and governance.

I’ve always known the senator to be a no-frills guy, a “to the point person”, and perhaps too serious to a fault when discussing what ails the government that’s beset with corruption and what can be done.

If you’re looking for an honest-to-goodness incorruptible, uncompromising public servant, he’s your guy. Consider these:

  1. As head of the Ant-Kidnapping Task Force of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission under President Erap, he did not hesitate to expose his fellow PMA ‘mistah’ for masterminding the kidnapping of a Taiwanese businessman.
  2. He rejected huge rewards offered to him for rescuing kidnapped victims for ransom. Among his rescued victims were children of affluent families: Robina Gokongwei and Manolo Zamora.
  3. As Chief PNP, he filed cases vs. scalawag cops who “acquired” recovered stolen vehicles for themselves, and made his campaign vs. “tong” cops a buzz in media.
  4. He banned police officers from golf courses during duty hours.
  5.  He refused to receive pork barrel funds as senator.
  6. He served as catalyst in all budget hearings on defense and national security.
  7. He led the charge for the passage and funding of the NTF-ECLAC to effectively fight communism and terrorism at the barangay level
  8. He figured prominently in Napoles’ pork barrel senate investigation that led to the filing of charges vs Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla.
  9. He campaigned hard vs. jueteng against the wishes of his Commander-in-Chief, President Erap, and became an active ally of the late Archbishop Oscar Cruz in the later’s advocacy vs. illegal gambling in the country.

Since he was considered a serious threat to traditional corrupt politics, he became the subject of an endless black propaganda, labeling him as drug lord, a kidnapper, a murderer, etc. all rolled into one – the exact opposite of his being a stickler for law and order.

His detractors even sought to have him detained behind bars by charging him again with the murder of Kuratong Baleleng, a charge that was already dismissed by the regional trial court in QC 3 years earlier. That second charge case was again dismissed.

Enough of these attempts to bring a good man down.

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SEC. DUQUE’S MOVE.  Guv Pogi did the right thing when called for a dialogue on the contentious issue revolving around the LTFRB policy that causes the continuous refusal of bus companies to resume their direct Pangasinan-Metro Manila trips.

As he correctly pointed out, while the LTFRB regional chief is accountable to his boss at their head office, and so is he, that as governor, he is accountable to his bosses – the Pangasinenses.

The LTFRB is clearly banking only on the IATF Resolution No. 101 that invokes the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the tighter control of movements of passengers between regions.  But the situation has since changed dramatically and the IATF resolution has already become irrelevant. The Alert level in both Pangasinan and NCR is already Alert Level 2, two levels lower than the Enhanced Community Quarantine category.

Indeed, the LTFRB has to withdraw its restrictive policy compelling bus companies operating the Pangasinan-Metro Manila routes to load and unload passengers only at the North Luzon Expressway Terminal in Bocaue, Bulacan a policy that ultimately imposes serious inconvenience to Pangasinan families, i.e., boarding another bus, longer travel time and added costs of travel.

At this point, Health Sec. Francisco Duque III, as IATF chairperson and as a Pangasinense, is called upon to withdraw the provision that allows LTFRB to issue special permits for the purpose.

Unfortunately, Sec. Duque has not given any indication to date if the IATF is ready to rescind the controversial resolution but he did say that he will do all to convince the IATF to rescind that provision in the resolution.

I sincerely hope that Sec. Duque and Guv Pogi will soon have  a meeting of minds for the sake of thousands of families that have long been separated by the pandemic and urgently need to be reunited during the holidays.

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MAYOR’S OFFICE’S SINISTER MOVES. The fake news posted by the Public Information Office of the Dagupan City government, falsely crediting Councilor Celia Lim, the mayor’s mother, and not Councilor Teresa Coquia for the passage of an ordinance, was clearly an offshoot of the investigation of the illegal activities of the office of the market supervisor led by the latter.

And the insensitive comment posted by Jeff Enriquez, a member of the market marshal task force, was a personal, unkind  affront to denigrate Ms. Coquia’s person as a cancer survivor.

The handprint of the mayor’s office behind the fake news from the Public Information Office is much too obvious and PIO chief Ging Cardinoza, who in spite of his being on leave, cannot escape culpability for command responsibility.

In this case, both Messrs. Cardinoza and Enriquez must make their public apologies for the wrong committed against the person of the city councilor.

But I seriously doubt if an apology will ever be made since dishonoring Coquia’s person by the office of mayor was clearly the intent as her “payback” for exposing the illegal activities of the market supervisor’s office that reports to the mayor’s office.

Recall that both Mayor Brian Lim and Market Supervisor Aguedo Sta. Maria completely ignored calls from the city council to act on the reported daily illegal collection of market fees and the P25,000 monthly protection fee from the market vendors.

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A FIGHT FOR FAMILIES. On the national front, former Speaker Alan Cayetano has been consistently in the top three slots for the senate posts in next year’s elections.

Last week, Pulse Asia showed him topping finally the surveys, edging out broadcaster Raffy Tulfo, and Sente returnees Chiz Escudero and Loren Legarda. 

I see this as a validation of his concerns for the plight and welfare of families today amid the poor economy and the recent legalization of e-sabong by the House of Representatives led by his successor Speaker Allan Velasco.

Cayetano has warned that the e-sabong will have far serious negative impact on families, even worse that drug trafficking and addiction.  True enough, there are already reports of bettors that committed suicide after losing heavily and incurring huge debts from e-sabong gambling.

He has sounded an urgent appeal to parents, teachers and the churches to band together to stop the operations of e-sabong in the country.

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GONZ WILL BE BACK. Here’s a piece of good news to the regular readers of our Gonz Duque’s “Playing with Fire” column who felt unfairly and inexcusably left out in the cold for almost 3 years. He will resume his column next month! So watch out for his continued incisive and provocative thoughts, playing with fire. Playing with Fire.

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