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Lacson: Senate probe about drugs and corruption, not De Lima

04:00 AM September 17, 2019

Please allow us to set the record straight regarding Solita Monsod’s Sept. 14 column, “Three against Leila,” where she insinuated that Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson had an “axe to grind” against Sen. Leila M. de Lima as his motive in inviting former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) OIC Rafael Ragos and Jovencio Ablen Jr. of the National Bureau of Investigation as resource persons to the Senate hearing on corruption at the BuCor last Sept. 12.

During the hearing, Lacson made it clear that the reason for inviting Ragos and Ablen was to shed light on the extent of corruption at the BuCor, including money-making schemes inside the New Bilibid Prison, where notorious high-profile inmates are supposedly secured — especially since the BuCor officials previously invited to the hearing had been unwilling to share what they knew.

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To refresh Monsod’s memory, Lacson said: “Mr. Chairman, just to clarify, the reason why we invited Director Ragos and Mr. Ablen, kasi iyong information na nakukuha natin sa kanila, ayaw naman i-share noong mga nandito.  So that’s one of the reasons why—because we want to get the whole picture more clearly.  And information that we don’t get or we won’t get from our resource persons, ito iyong information na—Kasi don’t tell me after they left, biglang nabago lahat iyan. Or before they arrived, iba iyong situation. I don’t think so. Because the money-making scheme, you know, has been there since time immemorial, I would say.”

If Monsod indeed has the transcript of the Sept. 12 hearing as she claims, and if she had no malicious motive, she should have no problem verifying what the senator said. And if she read the contents without a jaundiced view, she would find the questions directed at Ragos and Ablen were indeed about the corruption at the BuCor.

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But if Monsod still misses the point (or chooses to), Lacson reiterated in a radio interview on Sept. 13 that the reason for inviting Ragos and Ablen was to shed light on the extent of corruption at the BuCor, and not to revisit the case against De Lima, which is pending in court. “(Ang) thrust ng tanong namin, ang kalakaran sa loob. Incidental ang kay Senator De Lima. ’Yan ang hinahanap namin, ano binago, na-introduce na anomalies kung nag-modify sila, o ano na-carryover from previous to current.”

Another point that should disabuse Inquirer readers of Monsod’s wild “axe-to-grind” claim: Lacson is coauthor (with Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon) of Senate Resolution No. 51, allowing De Lima to “participate in Senate plenary sessions through teleconferencing, videoconferencing or other reliable forms of remote or electronic communications through the use of the appropriate electronic equipment and/or devices or medium of information, broadcast or telecommunications facilities or equipment.”

Finally, a fact-check for Monsod: De Lima, then justice secretary, insisted on the arrest of Lacson for the Dacer-Corbito case, not the Kuratong Baleleng case; both had long been dismissed.

As the senator himself summarized in his tweet: “It’s about drugs and corruption, stupid!”

We hope this enlightens the minds of the Inquirer’s readers on the matter. Thank you very much.

JOEL LOCSIN

Media Relations Officer

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Office of Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson

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TAGS: Bureau of Corrections, GCTA, good conduct time allowance, Inquirer letters, Joel Locsin, Leila de Lima, panfilo lacson, Senate hearing
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