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Lacson Vows To Get Rid Of ‘Kotong’ Cops

Lacson Vows To Get Rid Of ‘Kotong’ Cops
Presidential aspirant and Sen. Panfilo Lacson

With jeepney drivers losing some P300 a day to crooked policemen, ridding the streets of “kotong” cops will be among the first priorities of Sen. Panfilo Lacson if he gets elected as president.

Lacson, who is standard-bearer of Partido Reporma in the May 2022 national elections, recounted that he rid the police force of mulcting cops and the kotong culture when he was the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief from 1999 to 2001.

“This I can promise: kotong in the streets will disappear,” he said at a forum with bus operators and some drivers on Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Under his watch as PNP head, Lacson led by example and did not allow corruption and extortion among his men.

Before that, he said traders and dealers would give their drivers an extra P1,000 as “panlagay sa highway” (grease money for the road).

Lacson added his “no-take policy” reached a point that police would even refuse offers of money from drivers who they flag down for traffic violations.

His inspiration came from his late father Buenaventura who would come home tired and stressed, after being victimized by kotong cops.

Lacson’s determination in stopping the kotong culture in the PNP, as well as other reforms, earned the PNP – and himself as its chief – high approval ratings from the public, as well as their trust.

Meanwhile, he also asked the security sector to improve its implementation of programs and disbursements of funds earmarked for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and not allow this to be “prostituted” and used for political ends.

While he has vigorously defended the budget and concept of the NTF-ELCAC as chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, he stressed that the agency’s implementation of projects has been found wanting, which is one reason why lawmakers have decided to slash the task force’s budget by P28 billion for 2022.

“You know, the authorities… the executive department, particularly the security sector – the PNP, AFP (Armed Forces) and the implementers, the implementing agency – should show that they are implementing it properly. Not with politics mixed into it,” he said at a press conference following his dialog with transport sector leaders.

“I won’t go into details of what I told them, but really, we should stop… Let’s say its implementation has been prostituted. So, the senators are studying it now, the ball is in their court. If they can promise that they will fix its implementation, they’ll get their P28 billion back, because it really is a great concept,” he said Filipino.

“I have been consistent (in defending NTF-ELCAC), but when it comes to implementation that’s where it gets messed up. Even with all the laws we’ve been passing, the problem is always implementation,” he added.

Lacson said he was defending NTF-ELCAC “to the bones” because, as a former police officer, he understood how great a concept it was to empower the countryside and keep the communist or rebel elements from infiltrating the communities, especially in faraway areas.

He added that the NTF-ELCAC has made a lot of headway against the communist movement, noting that in a recent AFP briefing with the Senate, out of 200 guerilla fronts, only 43 are remaining.

Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon justified the committee on finance’s decision to slash down to P4 billion the funding for NTF-ELCAC in 2022, saying it is best to rechannel the funds to support the government’s pandemic response such as the procurement of COVID-19 booster shots and provision for ayuda or emergency cash assistance.

Drilon noted that the much-needed COVID-19 booster shots remain unfunded in the proposed General Appropriations Act for 2022. There is also no funds for ayuda, he added. – With Paolo Romero