MANILA, MARCH 30, 2009
(STAR) By Paolo Romero - Malacañang officials hit back yesterday at Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio for his threat to file criminal charges against President Arroyo if he wins the presidential elections in 2010.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde dared Panlilio to file corruption charges against Mrs. Arroyo now if he has enough evidence against the President, and not wait until he becomes president of the country.

“If Gov. Panlilio is serious, why would he wait until he wins? Why won’t he do it (file charges) now if he has evidence? If he is saying that he would do that if he wins, he is making it a political promise,” Remonde told dzRB.

“If that’s a political promise, then he’s obviously just politicking,” he said.

He said Mrs. Arroyo has no time for politicking and she is busy with her efforts to keep the economy growing despite the current global economic crisis.

Presidential Adviser for External Affairs and Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Secretary Edgardo Pamintuan had strong words for Panlilio, who he said should be scored for hitting Mrs. Arroyo, his fellow “cabalen” or provincemate.

Pamintuan said if Panlilio decides to run for president, he would “miserably lose” as his constituents and former allies would expose his misdeeds and inefficiency in running Pampanga.

He said most, if not all, of Panlilio’s former supporters have abandoned the governor. He also pointed out that only those living in Metro Manila think he will be a good president.

“You want to know the truth about him, ask his own constituents. They will expose him again and again. He should not have this messianic complex. Let him run, the era of clerico-fascists is long gone,” Pamintuan said in a radio interview.

Pamintuan said he no longer considers Panlilio, whom he had helped many times in the past, as a friend after trying to get media exposure at the expense of the President.

Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio said in the end, it would be the people who will judge presidential candidates.

Palace: Lacson politicizing a criminal issue By Paolo Romero Updated March 30, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said yesterday Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s repeated accusations that Malacañang was behind the criminal charges against him were clearly an attempt to politicize a criminal issue.

Remonde said it is Lacson, not the administration, who is going “berserk” in his efforts to extricate himself from criminal charges that he had masterminded the abduction and murder of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2000.

Remonde turned the tables on Lacson after the senator earlier accused the administration of having gone berserk in its efforts to implicate him in the double murder case.

“It is not the government that has gone berserk,” Remonde said. “It would seem that he is the one who has gone berserk.”

“Now he (Lacson) is being charged of the heinous crime of murder, the heinous crime of murder requires proof beyond reasonable doubt so if he really is not involved and not afraid, he should not react.”

He reiterated the Palace has nothing to do with the charges and accusing him are his former subordinates in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.

Remonde said that just because Lacson is a senator and is with the opposition, does not mean that “the children of the victims, the families of Dacer and Corbito, cannot seek justice.”

“After all, this is a sensational double murder case, and no one should be allowed to get away with it,” he said.

He said Lacson should face the charges in court.

Lacson, for his part, maintains his exposes on government corruption especially those involving key figures in Malacañang are the main reason why the vilification campaign against him was launched.

“They want to silence me,” Lacson insisted before the audience at the close of the launch of the local anti-corruption group Kabagis (Kapatiran sa Baguio, Isip Serbisyo Inc.) at the Lions Clubhouse in Baguio city Saturday night, “kasi ang ingay-ingay ko daw sa corruption.”

Lacson, implicated in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case as the brains of the crime, said former senior superintendent Cezar Mancao, who has apparently executed an affidavit pointing to the former PAOCTF chief as the mastermind, “was under tremendous pressure to implicate me.”

The former PNP chief said on Jan. 4 last year Mancao contacted him saying he was being pressured by now ISAFP chief Romeo Prestoza into implicating Lacson in the Dacer-Corbito murders. “I told him, if you cannot stand the pressure, just stick to the truth.”

This, as Lacson shrugged off the issues against him, saying these will not slow him down in exposing to the Filipino people corruption in government.

“I will not allow myself to be affected by the vilification campaign,” he vowed. “My greatest ally here is the truth. I will continue going around the country.”

The other day, Lacson was in Masbate, then Isabela, Cebu, then to Baguio on Saturday.

Lacson further belied he had sent people to assist former senior superintendent Glenn Dumlao in his petition for bail, even to the point of sending him funds for the purpose. “Hindi ko nakakausap si Dumlao,” he said, adding so that there was no petition for bond yet. “How could money for such bond come out when there is no petition yet?” Lacson laughed.

This as the senator also laughed off his indictment on the Dacer-Corbito case as “hogwash.” “There is no case yet,” Lacson confidently said, “because like any other case, there was no formal complaint against me.”

What is present is a complaint sworn in via a consul, not by any Filipino prosecutor, he said. – With Artemio Dumlao

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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