MANILA, Philippines - The powerful religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) backed the appointment of one of its members, former police official Magtanggol Gatdula, to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The new NBI chief is a member of the INC, which endorsed Aquino in the May 10 presidential elections.
"Is it my fault, to be a member of the Church of Christ?" Gatdula said in an interview on ANC's Headstart on Wednesday.
Gatdula said he was told by the INC that they would push for his appointment. However, he believes President Aquino's basis for his appointment to the NBI was his credentials.
Before President Aquino announced Gatdula's appointment, some NBI employees urged him to appoint an insider as director.
Former NBI director Nestor Mantaring was an insider. Mantaring assumed the post after an "outsider," former police official Reynaldo Wycoco, passed away.
In a previous interview, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she was not involved in the selection process for the NBI chief, an agency under her department.
De Lima said President Aquino did not consult her regarding Gatdula's appointment.
She said she had an agreement with President Aquino that she would defer to his appointing power in choosing the NBI director and the new undersecretaries in the Department of Justice.
Lacson hunt intensified
Gatdula, meanwhile, said he has called up teams assigned to hunt down Lacson and advised them to "double the effort.”
He said that as soon as Lacson is arrested, he will order his men to detain the senator at the “nearest police station.”
“According to the secretary [De Lima], we must follow the rules. [The rules say] the nearest jail or police station,” Gatdula said.
The new NBI chief was Lacson’s deputy for operations in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.
Gatdula was also employed by the senator when he ran for president in 2004.
He said his relationship with Lacson was “professional,” and that the senator would not receive any special treatment from the NBI.
Lacson, who left the country in January, is wanted for his supposed role in the murders of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, in November 2000.