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Lacson and Erap engaged in mud-slinging brawl

September 14, 2009 4:11pm

(Updated 9:08 p.m.) It can be said in Philippine politics that hell hath no fury like an ally scorned, as Senator Panfilo Lacson very publicly hurled allegations of corruption, with specific details, at his former boss Joseph Estrada on Monday. Estrada questioned Lacson's motives while denouncing the charges as lies.

Lacson had risen to prominence after then-President Estrada appointed him to top law enforcement positions. That job experience gave Lacson credibility as he branded his former boss a protector of jueteng operators, a godfather of smugglers, and a bully during a privilege speech on Monday.

"God save the Philippines from Joseph Ejercito Estrada," said Lacson, to which Estrada retorted, "Marami rin tayong nalalaman sa kanya (I also have the goods on him)." [See sidebar.]

Lacson said he and Estrada had a disagreement in 2000 over jueteng, a popular illegal numbers game, resulting in him being unofficially declared as a virtual persona non grata in Malacañang. He said Estrada wanted to keep jueteng going despite his repeated objections as then chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"I was practically in the doghouse for an unusually extended period of time. Mr. Estrada would not talk to me," he said.

Estrada was ousted from Malacañang by a people power revolt in 2001, in the midst of his impeachment over allegations of corruption. He was convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder in September 2007 but was pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, his successor, a month later.


Dacer-Corbito case

Lacson, however, fell short of directly linking Estrada to the Dacer-Corbito killings, only saying that the former president had micro-managed the now defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), which is implicated in the case, during his term.

ERAP: 'LACSON IS LYING'

Former President Joseph Estrada on Monday belied all the accusations hurled against him by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, even as he questioned the lawmaker's motives against him.

In an interview over GMA News' prime time newscast "24 Oras", Estrada expressed doubts on Lacson’s timing, saying the lawmaker could be attacking him because of his high ratings in the presidential race surveys.

"Hindi ko nga malaman kung ano ang kanyang motibo. Kung may katotohanan bakit nag-antay siya ng siyam na taon... Kung may ebidensya siya dapat nilabas na niya yan nung ako ay nililitis pa. Bakit ngayon dahil sa survey nagto-top sa pagka-presidente?" Estrada said.

More...

Estrada and Lacson have both been tagged by former PAOCTF member, former Senior Superintendent Cezar Mancao II, in the disappearance and subsequent killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby" Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000.

Lacson said Estrada had micro-managed the bureaucracy during his term, giving "direct orders" to agencies including the PNP and PAOCTF.

Lacson headed both the PNP and the PAOCTF in a concurrent capacity during Estrada’s term.

"On so many occasions, and I have personal knowledge on this, during his presidency, he was giving direct orders and instructions deep into the layers of the entire government bureaucracy, the PNP and the PAOCTF," he said.

Lacson, in his speech, questioned Estrada’s “temerity" to issue a press statement that Lacson supervised the so-called Oplan Delta, referring to the alleged plot to kill Dacer.

Mabuti pa si Mister Estrada, alam niyang may Oplan Delta. Ako, sa mga pahayagan at kamakailan ko lamang narinig at nalaman na mayroon palang Oplan Delta (Estrada is lucky he knows of an Oplan Delta. I learned about Oplan Delta only recently, through the newspapers)," he said.

Sa halip na i-depensa na lang niya ang sarili niya, bakit siya kailangang magturo ng iba (Instead of defending himself, why does he have to point to others)?" he added.

Erap the bully

Lacson said that in August 1998, Estrada, then fresh from winning the presidency, had the PNP pressure trader Alfonso Yuchengco to sign conveyance of his 7.75 percent Philippine Telecommunications Investment Corporation holdings, equivalent to 18,720 shares, to Metro Pacific represented by Manuel Pangilinan.

He said he learned much later that Estrada used the PNP to harass Yuchengco’s son, Tito, with arrest on some trumped-up drug charges to force Yuchengco to sell.

Napag-alaman ko na matagal tagal ding may kimkim na galit daw sa akin ang pamilyang Yuchengco sa dahilang ang pagkaalam nila ay sa akin iniutos ni Mister Estrada ang panggigipit sa kanila... wala po akong kamalay-malay sa pangyayaring iyan. At kung halimbawa mang sa akin iniutos ni Mister Estrada ang gawaing iyon, ay siguradong hindi ko po susundin," he added.

(I learned that the Yuchengco family harbored a grudge against me for quite some time because they thought I had a hand in Estrada’s order to harass them ... I knew nothing about that. If ever Estrada had ordered me to do so, I would have refused.)

Lies


Estrada's son, Senate Pro-Tempore Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, meanwhile said Lacson's speech was all "lies" and added that he would deliver a privilege speech on Tuesday.

Interviewed on dzBB radio shortly after Lacson’s speech, Jinggoy said he would answer Lacson’s allegations "point-for-point" in his privilege speech.

Asked what was Lacson’s possible motive for pinning his father down, Jinggoy said: “Dina-divert niya (Lacson) yung atensyon ng publiko sa Dacer-Corbito murders dahil ini-implicate rin siya doon."

(Lacson is trying to divert the public’s attention from the Dacer-Corbito murder case because he is also among those implicated in it.)

Simmering rift

The rift between Lacson and Estrada started in 2004, when the ex-President picked his friend, late actor Fernando Poe Jr., over Lacson as the opposition's presidential bet in that year's elections. Lacson continued his presidential campaign that year. Both lost to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Lacson recently urged Estrada to drop his renewed bid for the presidency and instead help unite the fragmented opposition.

But Estrada's camp did not take Lacson's advice lightly, saying the senator had no right to "lecture" the former president because "(Lacson) was the cause of disunity in the opposition in 2004." - with Sophia Dedace, GMANews.TV