Aquino reiterates support for Ochoa despite Quezon shooting controversy
ZURICH—President Aquino sees no reason to doubt Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, the administration’s anticrime czar whose name has been dragged into the police killing of 13 alleged criminals in Atimonan, Quezon, on Jan. 6.
Ochoa is the chairman of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), to which the police plan to arrest the alleged criminals was submitted in November for approval.
Ochoa has denied approving the plan.
“Why am I not going to be satisfied? [W]hat is the role of the PAOCC? They are not the operating arm. They just help fund, for instance, intelligence [gathering],” Mr. Aquino said when asked here whether he still had confidence in Ochoa after the disclosure that the PAOCC provided partial funding for “Coplan Armado,” the police operation to arrest alleged illegal gambling lord Victor Siman.
Siman was killed at a joint police-military checkpoint along Maharlika Highway in Atimonan in a supposed shootout with local and regional police.
But 12 other people were also killed in what Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, leading the government’s investigation of the incident, described as “definitely not a shootout.”
Mr. Aquino said he had discussions with the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo about illegal gambling before the latter died in a plane crash in August last year.
Robredo, he said, had drawn up a comprehensive plan for combatting illegal gambling, including the fronts for the state-sponsored Small-Town Lottery.
That plan cannot be found, Mr. Aquino said.
“I’m not sure if he wrote it down for operations and security purposes,” he said.
Without that plan, the PAOCC has been tasked to study how to eradicate illegal gambling and “pick up [from] where Secretary Robredo left off,” Mr. Aquino said.
The President said funding assistance was requested for Coplan Armado, but the operation was disapproved.
“Now I hope we don’t get carried away by talk from people who have to answer for this mess but are citing irrelevant matters to confuse us and buy time,” Mr. Aquino said.
Ochoa may have secret enemies who are trying to drag him into the Atimonan mess, the President said.
Originally posted: 4:25 pm | Sunday, January 27th, 2013