Lacson twits Duterte for clearing Alan ahead of probe
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Friday twitted President Duterte for practically absolving government officials, including Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, behind the massive foul-ups in the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG).
Mr. Duterte, whose defense of his errant friends and political allies has raised questions about his anticorruption agenda, said he was “sure” that Cayetano was “not involved in corruption” even before a formal investigation could begin.
Cayetano, the President’s running mate in the 2016 presidential elections and a former foreign secretary, heads the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc).
The private foundation has drawn widespread criticisms for some logistical snafus that caused unnecessary inconveniences to Filipino and foreign athletes just days before the start of the games on Nov. 30.
“When it comes to his close allies, the President [regards] them as ‘lily-white driven snow’ who are infallible and incorruptible. And we all know that’s not accurate,” Lacson told reporters.
“When his allies are involved, there’s no hint of corruption. We all know that’s not true. [It’s as if] there’s no need for an investigation because they are incorruptible,” he said.
‘Not always correct’
“While his opinion matters because he is the President of the Republic, we know he is not always correct, with a poor batting average in this regard,” Lacson added in a Twitter post.
Asked if he was referring to Cayetano, his former colleague in the Senate, Lacson replied: “No, not Speaker Cayetano. [I was referring] to those who had a problem in the past like (Nicanor) Faeldon.”
Faeldon, a former Marine officer who supported Duterte’s candidacy, was forced to quit as Bureau of Customs (BOC) chief after he was implicated in the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth).
Instead of ordering his prosecution, the President designated Faeldon as deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.
Mr. Duterte later appointed Faeldon as head of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which has supervision over the New Bilibid Prison, the state penitentiary that the President claimed was a hub of the illegal drug trade in the country.
The President fired Faeldon last September after he disobeyed Mr. Duterte’s order not to release Bilibid convicts supposedly for good behavior, among them former Calauan, Laguna, Mayor Antonio Sanchez, a convicted murderer and rapist, who almost walked out of prison.
In both cases, Mr. Duterte did not order an investigation of Faeldon or the filing of criminal and administrative complaints against him.
“He was involved in corruption twice already, in BuCor and BOC. And yet there’s no investigation being conducted by the executive branch because the President has spoken. He believes so much in Faeldon that he’s not corrupt,” Lacson said.
Crusade against corruption
Lacson, whose crusade against corruption had earned him political enemies, said the President’s remarks would not stop the Senate from looking into several SEA Games issues, including the construction of a P55-million cauldron.
Lacson had likened the transfer of P1.5 billion in public funds from the Philippine Sports Commission to the Phisgoc to the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
He said that both instances involved the “questionable” funneling of taxpayer money to a private foundation.
“Nobody is saying that there’s a corruption issue in Phisgoc. We’re not yet there,” he said.
To Cayetano’s challenge that they take a lie detector test, Lacson said: “I’m ready anytime. If they want, we can do it now.”
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