As the Elections Die Down, Robina Gokongwei-Pe Remembers How Ping Lacson Once Saved Her Life

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After three unsuccessful attempts to run for president of the Philippines, senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson is going home—but not before his friends and supporters honor him and his career.

Robina Gokongwei-Pe, the eldest child of the late industrialist John Gokongwei Jr., paid tribute to Lacson in a heartfelt Facebook post as she recalled the moment Lacson once saved her life. 

In August of 1981, Robina and her cousin Celina were kidnapped by “a gang headed by the wayward son of a judge.” For seven days, the two were held captive while John Gokongwei Jr. worked with the Philippine Constabulary's Metropolitan Command to save his daughter and niece. 

The policeman assigned to the case was none other than Ping Lacson, who led the team that rescued the women. In 2019, Lacson recalled how he advised John Gokongwei on how to handle the P10 million ransom demands, telling him not to sound intimidated or scared by the kidnappers. Lacson and his team eventually rescued Robina and Celina before Gokongwei was forced to pay a ransom. To show his gratitude, Gokongwei offered to give Lacson P400,000 in reward money, which he declined. Instead, the tycoon donated 10 police cars to the PC Metrocom as thanks. 


Forty years since that harrowing experience, Robina shared the following: 

“I still have newspaper clippings and a diary about the incident. I refused to read them again for the past 40 years but decided to finally bring them out of my baul after you announced that you just want to go home and spend time with your family.”

“Thank you Sen. Ping Lacson for your 50 years of government service,” said Robina Gokongwei-Pe. “Time to relax, White Knight!” 

Robina Gokongwei-Pe is the president and CEO of Robinsons Retails Holdings Inc., a company built by the late John Robinson Lim Gokongwei Jr.

Esquire Philippines is published by Summit Media, the media arm of the Gokongwei group.

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