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Know Your Candidate: Panfilo 'Ping' Morena Lacson Sr.

The law enforcer-turned-lawmaker is gunning for the presidency for a second time.
ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO/RACHEL MUNSAYAC
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Esquire Philippines is running a series of profiles on the most high-profile candidates for the position of President of the Philippines during the 2022 elections. This is intended to educate and inform Filipino voters as they make the potentially life-changing decision of choosing the country’s next leader. 

Full Name: Panfilo "Ping" Morena Lacson Sr.

Birthdate: 1 June 1948

Age: 73

Birthplace: Imus, Cavite, Philippines

Religion: Roman Catholic

Languages Spoken: Filipino, English

Party: Independent

 

Family

Father: Buenaventura Lacson

Mother: Maxima Lacson

Sister: Ma. Corazon Lacson-Magpayo

Brother: Reynaldo Lacson

Brother: Romulo Lacson

Brother: Ernani Lacson

Sister: Ma. Cristina Lacson-Diaz

Brother: Feliciano Lacson

Brother: Juanito Lacson

Wife: Alice de Perio

Son: Reginald Lacson

Son: Ronald Jay Lacson

Son: Panfilo Lacson Jr.

Son: Jeric Lacson

 

Education

Elementary: Bayang Luma Elementary School

Secondary: Imus Institute

Tertiary: 

  • Philippine Military Academy (Matatag Class of 1971)

Graduate Studies:

  • Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (Master in Government Management in 1996)

Other Courses/Certificates:

  • Counter URBAN Guerilla Warfare Course, Fort Magsaysay (1972)
  • Intel Officers Basic Course, SITS, Fort Bonifacio, (1973)
  • Military Intel Collection Course, SITS, Fort Bonifacio (1974)
  • Incident Management Course, PSG, Malacañang
  • Airmobile Operations Course Command and General Staff Course, Camp Crame, Quezon City
  • Command General Staff College, Fort Bonifacio

Government Service

  • Senator (2001 to 2013; 2016 to present)
  • Presidential Assistant on Rehabilitation and Recovery (2013 to 2015)
  • Chief, Philippine National Police (1999 to 2001)
  • Chief, Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (1998 to 2001)
  • Project Officer, Special Project Alpha (1996 to 1997)
  • Chief, Task Force Habagat, PACC (1992 to 1995)
  • Provincial Director, Laguna, PC (February to July 1992)
  • Commander, Cebu Metrodiscom (1989 to 1992)
  • Provincial Commander, Isabela PC (1988 to 1989)
  • PC-INP Anti Carnapping Task Force (1986 to 1988)
  • Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (1971 to 1986)

Notable Achievements

Lacson first gained recognition as Lieutenant Colonel with the PC-Metrocom, leading a team that handled the rescue of now-tycoon Robina Gokongwei-Pe, daughter of businessman John Gokongwei Jr., from a kidnap-for-ransom gang.

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As Philippine National Police Chief, Lacson sought to revive the integrity of the national police, cracking down on kotong culture and upholding rigid physical, financial, and institutional requirements. The PNP's budget was utilized for improvements to management and the removal of excess privileges, like golfing on weekdays and the like. Corrupt cops were sacked and those who were left were ordered to slim down and carry a waistline of no more than 34 inches.

He would eventually win a seat at the Upper House, serving three terms.

With almost two decades' worth of experience in the Senate, Lacson has authored, sponsored, or co-authored hundreds of key measures. Some of his most notable bills include the Anti-Money Laundering Act, Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, Free Irrigation Law, and Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007. The former law enforcer is also one of the main authors of the Reproductive Health Act and Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012. He spearheaded the investigations into the corruption within the so-called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), as well.

Lacson was one of the authors of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act and was also a co-author of the GMRC and Values Education Act. In addition, the former PNP chief principal sponsor and one of the authors of the highly controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 .

In 2013, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino appointed Lacson as Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, which crafted the Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan. He eventually resigned and recommended the creation of a permanent government agency for disaster rehabilitation and recovery.

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Legal Proceedings

Lacson was one part of the Philippine Constabulary Metropolitan Command (Metrocom)'s Intelligence and Security Group, which allegedly carried out the tortures and disappearances of activists during the Marcos dictatorship. He denies his involvement.

Lacson was also linked to the composite task group that carried out the liquidation of the 11 members of the infamous Kuratong Baleleng gang in Quezon City. The Supreme Court later junked the case against him in 2012.

Among Lacson's other notorious links was the Dacer–Corbito murder case, where the victims were abducted in Makati and whose burnt corpses were later found in Indang, Cavite.

The Regional Trial Court in Manila issued an arrest warrant against him while the Interpol issued a Red Notice. He eventually went into "exile" in Hong Kong and Rome. In February 2011, the Court of Appeals withdrew the murder charges against the senator, stating that the witness, Senior Superintendent Cezar Mancao II, was "not a credible and trustworthy witness." He returned to the country in March 2011. Mancao would later apologize in a media interview. 

Lacson endured harassment after he was linked to several criminal activities during the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In 2022, Mrs. Arroyo admitted in her memoir that she was fed false information against Lacson.

Photo by Warren Espejo.
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Advocacies and Platforms

  • Anti-Corruption and Budget Reform

Lacson aims to establish an annual Local Development Fund to assist local government units in implementing three-year development plans. Cross-referencing major revenue-collecting agencies is also a priority for his campaign. He also hopes to support local government units through his Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment plan

He also aims to remove private protection under the Bank Secrecy Act.

  • Anti-Insurgency

Lacson wants to enforce the law against all offenders equally while also upholding human rights. He also expresses that he wants peace talks with rebels to continue. 

  • Economic Recovery and Support for Local Industries

The Lacson campaign wants to target fiscal stimulus packages for businesses and to support micro, small, and medium enterprises. He also seeks a “Filipino First” policy when it comes to goods. Aside from this, Lacson hopes to reinvent the Conditional Cash Transfer or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) programs, focusing on cash-for-work mechanisms.

  • Digitization

For this, Lacson wants to fully automate the Bureau of Customs operations, as well as various government agencies. He also hopes to have a government that emphasizes an improved broadband service and access for the country. His campaign also promises a more efficient rollout of the National ID system.

  • Health and Pandemic Response

His campaign promises to stimulate economic recovery by  strengthening the health sector. He also hopes to fully fund and enforce RA No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act of 2019.

Notable Quotes

"Ang tama, ipaglaban. Ang mali, labanan."

On corruption:

  • "Sa halip na magastos ang pera ng gobyerno sa social services, livelihood at infrastructure, napunta sa bulsa ng iilan."

On poverty:

  • "Hindi pwede ang ayuda for the sake of giving ayuda. Nakaabang lagi ang botante kung sino mas malakas magbigay."
  • "Ang pantawid, gawin nating pang-ahon. I-capacitate, kasama sa programa, hindi doleout."
  • "Kailangan ang programs, walang attendant corruption."

On current issues in the country:

  • "Ang isang kamalian nating mga Pilipino, tumigil tayo na mangarap. We have become dreamless, hopeless and helpless."
  • "Ang dapat dito, baguhin ang attitude ng ating mga kababayan, sa ating gobyerno. Kaya nga dapat ang manguna sa pagbabago ng attitude ng mga Pilipino ang gobyerno mismo."
  • "Kaya ang aming platform at battlecry, dapat ayusin ang gobyerno para mapabuti ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino. There’s no other way. Lahat nanggagaling sa gobyerno. Ang napakalaking problema ng ating bansa, government. Ang solusyon, gobyerno rin."

On the controversial Anti-Terror Law:

  • "No matter who you are, if you commit acts of terrorism, you will be answerable under the law. The law is the law. Walang target ito kundi ang nagko-commit ng acts of terrorism."

Campaign slogan: Aayusin ang gobyerno. Aayusin ang buhay ng Pilipino.

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