Lacson to GMA: Start Fighting Kotong in Your Own Backyard

If you want to seriously fight extortion, start in your own backyard.

This was the “unsolicited” advice of Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson Friday to Mrs. Arroyo, a day after she created a task force against “kotong” (extortion) and colorum vehicles upon the request of the transport sector. 

“I am tempted to give this piece of unsolicited advice: Start with kotong right inside Malacañang or you will get nowhere in this new effort,” said Lacson, who made stopping extortion a priority when he headed the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001.

Lacson said that while Mrs. Arroyo “hit the nail right on the head” by initiating a parallel effort against extortion and colorums, such efforts will not go beyond lip service if she does not set the example for her subordinates.

During his tour of duty in the PNP, Lacson pointed out he always lived by the “no-take” policy that he made sure to strictly observe. As a result, he said his subordinates would follow his lead and refuse to accept bribes, much less extort money from motorists and public utility drivers.

As such, Lacson said Mrs. Arroyo should not expect her subordinates to follow her orders, especially if they “see” bigger amounts changing hands right inside Malacañang.

He noted Malacañang has repeatedly refused to clear the air on suspicions of extortion and transactional politics involving the giving of cash gifts to some lawmakers and local government executives, as well as supposed bribery in the $329.5-million national broadband network deal with ZTE Corp. of China.

“There is no substitute for leadership by example. How can you expect your subalterns or subordinates to follow what you say if they see you do not practice what you preach?” he said.

Lacson also said Mrs. Arroyo should start thinking of a positive legacy to leave behind when she leaves the presidency in 2010.

“She has less than three years to go. I for one would like to see her leave behind a good legacy, a legacy of honor and not a legacy of corruption,” he said.