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Senator Lacson to DILG after 2013?

/ 10:00 PM April 26, 2011

SEN. PANFILO Lacson as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government? This was the talk in the sidelines of the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel last Monday, though it was never discussed formally during the forum itself. I did ask, during the forum, if Lacson would accept the position if it were offered to him by President Aquino. The speculation surfaced because of the very private one-on-one conference in Malacañang between the President and the senator amid rumors that P-Noy is not happy with the performances of Secretary Jesse Robredo and Undersecretary Rico Puno who was put in charge of the Philippine National Police but who has been invisible since the hostage drama at the Luneta. Under Puno, not only has the PNP been inutile in preventing crimes, big and small; some of its members have been involved in crime and corruption. In the midst of all that, Puno has been so silent that there are people who are wondering whether or not he actually exists.

As for Robredo, corruption among local government officials is spreading unashamedly, but he behaves like a zombie. Two recent examples: the thousands of ghost employees in the payrolls of Quezon City councilors. This was exposed by former Sen. Nene Pimentel and a whistle-blower at a recent Kapihan sa Diamond forum. Robredo’s reaction: total silence, as if he is afraid of the councilors.

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The other high profile case is the recommendation of the Office of the Ombudsman for the suspension of Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for misappropriation of public funds. He spent P11.5 million of Special Education Funds for just one birthday party when he was still mayor of Davao City. Robredo’s reaction: not a peep.

The talk in the Kapihan sidelines was that Lacson’s second term as senator would be ending in 2013, and he is barred from running for a third term. Having been the best PNP chief ever, could the unhappy P-Noy have discussed with him the possibility of his taking over the DILG post?

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Lacson’s answer was that it was never discussed, and that he has two more years to go as senator and so it is premature to even think of that prospect.

The other speculation is that P-Noy has no clear successor to Malacañang in 2016, what with Sen. Mar Roxas having been wounded grievously in the last vice presidential election, and Vice President Jojo Binay belonging to another party and no other leader clearly emerging to lead the Liberal Party in 2016. Would not Lacson, who exposed many cases of corruption during the Arroyo administration—for which reason he was linked to the Dacer-Corbito murders—be a good candidate to continue P-Noy’s anti-corruption crusade?

Lacson’s linking to the twin murders smacks of persecution and this forced him to go into hiding until the Court of Appeals declared there was no probable cause against him and lifted the warrant for his arrest. Filipinos are suckers for the underdog and the oppressed, they say, and the hounding of Lacson by the Arroyo administration and even by the present justice secretary, Leila de Lima, has made Lacson more popular, and it is not far-fetched that there may be a groundswell of support for him in 2016, so they say. (It would be interesting to watch the confrontation between Lacson and De Lima when she goes next month for confirmation to the Commission on Appointments, of which Lacson is a member.)

That’s too far away was Lacson’s answer. A lot of things can happen between now and then.

But an indication of Lacson’s growing popularity is that every time he appears at the Kapihan sa Diamond (or reported to show up), the Diamond Hotel is filled to the rafters with journalists and fans, as happened again last Monday.

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The other topic that took up the time of the Kapihan sa Diamond was the Reproductive Health bill. Former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Bishop Rodrigo Tano, chairman of the Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, were all there to argue for the RH bill. Even Bishop Tano was for it. (Bishop Tano heads an association of non-Catholic religious groups.) Unfortunately, Catholic clerics, who vehemently oppose the RH bill, are shy about debating the RH bill in public. They would rather confine themselves to church pulpits and to issuing press statements.

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Boiled down to the nitty-gritty, those in favor of the RH bill say that families should be allowed to decide for themselves the size of their families. In public survey after public survey, poor families say they would like to limit the number of their children as they cannot support too many, but that they didn’t know how. The RH bill would allow the government to teach them how, but the decision would still belong to the parents.

The opposition of the Catholic Church is primarily religious and moral. Artificial birth control, the Church believes, prevents or terminates life in the womb, which is against the law of God. That, they say, is tantamount to murder.

The Church is not opposed, however, to natural birth control, which means essentially, having sex only during the “safe” periods, and “self-control” during the “unsafe” periods. Unfortunately, self-control is very hard to control when it comes to sex.

How about sleeping pills taken by the man a half-hour before going to bed? The Church does not oppose that. And it has been proven 100 percent effective. So why don’t the two sides agree to use sleeping pills?

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TAGS: Government, opinion, Ping Lacson, politics, reproductive health
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