Even as he prayed for peaceful elections in Abra and other hotspots on May 9, independent presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson has mapped out a plan to put an end to the culture of violence in such areas.
Lacson, who was in Abra on Tuesday, also stressed it is time to end the culture where “warlords” keep residents poor and ignorant, and always dependent on them.
“Of course ginawa ko noong Chief PNP ako – pay special attention not only to Abra but in areas na traditionally historically magulo, not only during election period (I have done this when I headed the Philippine National Police – pay special attention not only to Abra but to areas that have been traditionally and historically prone to violence not only during the election period),” he said in an interview with media.
Should he and vice presidential bet Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III be elected into office on May 9, Lacson said he will take the first step by implementing “without letup” a massive internal cleansing of the bureaucracy.
This is similar to the internal cleansing of the PNP when he headed it from 1999 to 2001 – where the ICUs or inept, corrupt and undisciplined cops either reformed or were booted out of the service.
“Ang strategy na dapat i-adopt which I already did when I was Chief PNP, massive internal cleansing ng pulis so bumalik ang trust ang respect ng public sa pulis. Ganoon din sana sa gobyerno. If we scale it up sana bumalik trust ng tao sa gobyerno. There’s no other way. If there’s no trust, how can the people cooperate with the government (The strategy we should adopt, I already did when I was Chief PNP – a massive internal cleansing that earned back the trust and respect of the public. It is the same with the government. We should scale it up, so the government can win back the public’s trust. There’s no other way – if there’s no trust, how can the people cooperate with the government)?” he said.
Lacson said he prayed for peaceful elections in Abra when he paid a courtesy call on Bangued Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian.
He also voiced hopes for an end to a system where local warlords in some provinces prey on the ignorance and fear of voters.
“Nagkakwentuhan kami, humingi kami ng prayer na sana this time maging tahimik ang election dito (We talked and I asked for prayers that this time, elections will be peaceful in Abra),” he said.
Meanwhile, Lacson received a commitment from his supporters who are running for local posts in Abra – members of Partido Reporma who continue to support him – that they would not tolerate violence. These included former Abra Governor Eustaquio Bersamin, who is running for governor under Reporma but who continues to support him.
Also, Lacson called on the PNP to assess the situation in Abra to validate information that local residents are living in fear. He noted the only peaceful election in Abra was in 2013 when the PNP, upon Lacson’s request, assigned now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong to head the Cordillera regional police.
“That was the first and only time na walang bloodshed. Sayang yan sana ang ginawang template ng PNP pagdating sa peace and order during elections (That was the first and only time where there was no bloodshed during elections in Abra. The PNP could have made that a template for peace and order during elections),” he said.