Ping to PNP: Don’t follow illegal orders, even from Duterte
Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Friday warned Philippine National Police personnel against following “illegal orders,” including directives to stop the campaign against the illegal numbers game “jueteng,” even if these came from the President.
He said police personnel “should be ready for the consequences if they follow illegal orders from anybody—not from their superiors, not from their Commander in Chief.”
Following illegal orders from their superiors, including the President, “is not a valid legal defense in court,” said Lacson, who headed the PNP from 1999 to 2001.
The chair of Senate public order committee issued the statement in reaction to President Duterte’s recent remarks suggesting easing up on the crackdown on jueteng.
‘At least money goes around’
When he said last Friday that the economy was “in the doldrums,” Mr. Duterte said he was considering a strong replacement to the numbers game to stimulate economic activity in the provinces.
“Now if there’s jueteng … at least money goes around. Some people will get hungry, others will be able to eat, [but] there’s commercial activity,” he said.
On Thursday, the President expressed concerns that the illegal drug trade might become more rampant if the illegal numbers game were totally eradicated, saying that drug dealers would then use jueteng’s “very extensive and intensive network.”
Mr. Duterte said no previous administration had stopped drugs and illegal gambling. “I’m not saying I won’t take any action. I will. But I am aware of the danger of what will develop after you stop jueteng,” he said.
Lacson said the authorities, including the PNP, are duty-bound to enforce the law against illegal gambling, Republic Act No. 9287.
“There is an existing law declaring jueteng, among other forms of gambling, as illegal, and it is not exempt from being pursued by law enforcement authorities. It also breeds corruption among law enforcement agencies,” Lacson said.
He said the President might have only meant that he wanted to prioritize illegal drugs over illegal gambling.
“There can be no legal justification not to arrest an offender who is committing a crime in the presence of a law enforcer, be it a drug offender or an illegal gambler,’ Lacson said.
Recalling his experience of getting bribe offers from gambling operators, Lacson said any letup in the campaign could lead to disastrous consequences.
“Human experience would tell us how petty corruption morphs into something big, then bigger and bigger, until a person mostly clothed with official authority doesn’t know anymore how and when to stop,” he said.
“Worse, from monthly takes courtesy of gambling operators, he shifts to a much bigger protection money from smugglers, drug lords and the like. And before anybody realizes it, the whole country is faced with serious national security and economic problems,” Lacson said. —WITH REPORTS FROM JULIE M. AURELIO
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