MANILA, Philippines—Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, the former senator and prospective anticorruption czar, insisted Wednesday that his proposed anticorruption presidential commission was in accord with the Constitution even in the face of a Supreme Court decision that struck down as unconstitutional President Aquino’s proposed Truth Commission in 2010.
Lacson was disputing Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s contention that his proposed commission was “unconstitutional, illegal and even egotistical,” citing the Constitution, the Supreme Court decision on the Truth Commission and a number of other laws.
Lacson, who is widely expected to be appointed by President Aquino to head a yet to be created anticorruption agency, argued that the Supreme Court had ruled the Truth Commission unconstitutional not because the President was not allowed by law to create a new office but because the commission was tasked to specifically target former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Arroyo administration officials.
“For Senator Santiago’s peace of mind, I reviewed the Supreme Court decision on the creation of the Truth Commission which was struck down by the court as unconstitutional,” Lacson said in a text message.
“The ruling says it is [unconstitutional] not because its creation was illegal, i.e., that only Congress can create that office but rather the same was held to be violative of the equal protection clause since the thwarted Truth Commission was designed to go after ex-PGMA (Arroyo) and her cohorts only,” he said.
By contrast, he claimed that his proposed anticorruption commission would run after all corrupt public officials and their associates.
“A reading of the decision would show that the creation of the Truth Commission was justified under the authority granted to the President under Article VII Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution,” Lacson said.
The provision provides that, “the President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus and offices. He shall ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.”
“This was the provision cited by the ponente, the Honorable Justice [Jose] Mendoza and concurred by the majority. Easily, that makes the senator’s comments ‘ridiculous, unintelligent, laughable’ and bereft of constitutional basis,” Lacson said.
Santiago on Tuesday ridiculed a proposed executive order that Lacson had allegedly drafted for the President’s signature for the creation of an anticrime commission, that Lacson would supposedly head, which will have operational capability such as conducting entrapment operations against suspected corrupt officials.
“His plan is laughable and ridiculous. It is unconstitutional, illegal, immoral and egotistic. It is amazing that the former senator can be so brazen as to propose a plan that violates existing standards of law and ethics,” the senator said.