Philippine senator Panfilo Lacson flew back into the country this week after the Court of Appeals dismissed the arrest warrant issued against him. In a press conference yesterday, the senator made much of the fact that, while in hiding for more than a year, he had to tend for himself, even learning how to mop the floor, cook his own food, make his own bed.
The Inquirer reported on Lacson’s life on the run:
“Sometimes while I was chatting with my child [on the phone], I had to tell him, ‘I have to go because I still have to wash the dishes. BRB (be right back).’”
Lacson said his life on the lam required a kind of discipline “1,000 times” more rigorous than during his cadetship training and during his stint as national police chief under the Estrada administration.
“I couldn’t act like a señorito. I wasn’t a senator (in my host’s house). I was just someone who needed a place to stay,” he said.
While waiting for a chance to return to the Philippines, he said he learned to cook such dishes as embotido, afritada, adobo, sinigang, empanada—all courtesy of Google. He learned how to cook rice and bake pan de sal, too, he said.
“I was cooking for myself,” he said. “If you want, I could cook for you.”
Hiding from the law also visibly benefited him. Lacson, who had avoided the media since flying in on Saturday, showed up at the Senate with a fairer, healthier look.
“I didn’t see much sunlight. I was always inside the house,” he explained.
This actually made me laugh. Poor guy, I thought. And then I’m reminded of the many atrocities that have been attributed to him while serving as the police chief under President Joseph Estrada, among them the allegation that he masterminded the murder of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito — the case that led to his becoming a fugitive.
No, Mr. Senator, your plight is not about you learning to do house chores. What happened to you is not a matter of injustice.
Your plight, sir, is one of the most glaring examples of how the rich and the powerful in the Philippines can elude justice just like that, and live to mock it even more.
Think about this: If it were an ordinary man who had been issued a warrant of arrest for murder, he’d be rotting in jail by now or, worse, dead. But Lacson, of course, is no ordinary man. He is a senator, a very influential one at that.
What he did by escaping justice is to mock the judicial system. Where else can you find a man who challenged his arrest warrant while on the lam, surfacing only when the court favored him? Who else can do that sort of thing except the rich and the powerful?
If Lacson is innocent of the charge that he murdered Dacer and Corbito, he should have faced the matter squarely and not run and hide. As a senator, he has a duty to show to the public that he recognizes the rule of law and the judicial system. True, it may not be a perfect system and that it may well have been used by the previous regime to persecute him. But Lacson swore to live and operate within the ambit of the law, no matter how faulty it is.