Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson isn’t buying the National Bureau of Investigation’s findings indicating a police rubout in the Atimonan incident that left 13 persons dead in early January.
Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, said that the NBI report could result in police officers getting tentative in life-and-death situations.
“I know [a rubout] when I see one,” Lacson told reporters on Thursday. He noted that the head of the police operation in Atimonan, Supt. Hansel Marantan, was wounded in the incident. “His injury was rather serious, not just a grazed wound,” Lacson said.
He said the slug, which hit Marantan and which was subsequently recovered, matched with a gun found inside the vehicle.
“If you ask me, I wouldn’t buy the idea that this is a rubout,” Lacson said.
Lacson is no stranger to police operations that have been tagged as alleged rubouts.
In January, the Supreme Court dismissed with finality the multiple murder case filed against Lacson and 33 other police officers in connection with the killings of suspected members of the Kuratong Baleleng armed robbery group in 1995.
‘I know how it feels’
“I feel for them,” Lacson said of Marantan and others recommended for prosecution for multiple murder. “I know how it feels when a policeman does his job and then gets a case filed against him. The torture isn’t only mental, it doesn’t only affect the family but it also has huge financial costs.”
“If nobody would help them, they, especially the noncommissioned officers, stand to lose so much that they could become paupers. Everything a lawyer does ends up in attorney’s fees. So I pity these cops,” he said.
Lacson said the NBI findings would definitely demoralize the ranks of the country’s police officers.
“It’s really demoralizing. Our cops might become tentative during operations. They might [become tentative] when they are confronted with armed aggressors, holduppers or armed elements. Every second counts during those situations,” Lacson said.
Lacson said he had always told his subordinates in the PNP to always be quick on the draw during police operations.
“If it is a choice between your safety or the safety of your fellow policemen or a stranger and facing a case, then shoot, stupid,” Lacson said.
“It would be better having to explain later than lying in state dead and being talked about because you were too slow,” he added.