Before he became the “pork hunter” of the Senate, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson was the scourge of kidnap-for-ransom gangs – not only in Metro Manila, but in Cebu.
Campaign spokesperson Ashley Acedillo recalled how Cebuanos were in awe of Lacson when he headed the Philippine Constabulary’s Metropolitan District Command in Cebu in the late 1980s.
“Maybe the newer generation of Cebuanos were too young to remember that kidnapping was once a dreaded scourge in Cebu. It was only a certain Police Colonel Ping Lacson who turned the tables and became the scourge of the kidnappers,” said Acedillo, who grew up in Cebu.
He noted how Lacson quickly gained the respect of Cebuanos after rescuing from kidnappers a nine-year-old boy belonging to a prominent Cebuano family.
Lacson refused to accept the financial rewards from the boy’s family, as he maintained he and his team were “just doing our job.”
“Ping showed integrity not only when he refused the reward – he made sure the ransom money that was recovered was returned intact,” Acedillo said.
Acedillo said these memories, along with later stories of Lacson refusing bribes as a public official, showed Lacson’s incorruptible nature.
Lacson – who would go on to bust more kidnap-for-ransom gangs as head of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission’s Task Force Habagat in the early 1990s – also earned the support of Cebuanos, such that they considered him an “adopted son.”
“He never took a bribe as a public official. He never stole public funds. He never used his pork barrel as a legislator. He never abused power nor his position,” Acedillo said.
“So the question is, if corruption were the biggest problem of the country today, who among the presidential candidates would the corrupt people in government and Philippine society fear the most? I guess the answer is obvious,” he added.