Ping Lacson eyed as anti-crime czar

Posted at 06/19/2012 2:33 AM | Updated as of 06/19/2012 9:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines -  Sen. Panfilo Lacson is being eyed as the country’s anti-crime czar to replace Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Malacañang sources said yesterday.

Liberal Party stalwart Florencio Abad also denied the LP or the so-called Balay Group led by party president and Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II was opposed to the entry of Lacson in the Cabinet.

“I have not heard anything negative from any LP official about Senator Lacson, even from Secretary Roxas. Lacson will certainly be an asset to the

Aquino administration should he accept the President’s offer to join government when his second term ends on June 30, 2013,” Abad said. Aquino had designated Ochoa as head of a reorganized presidential anti-crime body.

Executive Order 46, signed by both Aquino and Ochoa on June 13 last year, reorganized the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission and assigned Ochoa to head the body, which included the secretaries of the interior, justice, national defense and foreign affairs departments, the national security adviser, the Armed Forces chief of staff, the police director-general, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency director general, the National Bureau of Investigation director and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime executive director.

Among the powers and functions of the commission is to conduct intelligence and counter-intelligence operations to identify government officials and employees, crime syndicates and their cohorts involved in criminal activities.

The commission will focus on offenses committed by organized crime and syndicates, including but not limited to drug trafficking, human trafficking, car theft, gun-running, robbery, kidnap for ransom, smuggling and transnational crimes. Also covered are heinous crimes.

President Aquino earlier said he would like Lacson and Sen. Francis Pangilinan, an LP member, to be part of his Cabinet after their terms as senator expire. Pangilinan is said to be being eyed as presidential adviser on agriculture, also a Cabinet-level position.

Reacting to Lacson’s possible appointment to the Cabinet, retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said the “happy days of those who benefit from jueteng are numbered.” – With Eva Visperas