Kuratong Baleleng behind rise in crimes in MM - Ping

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2012 03:08 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2012 11:18 PM

Ping mum on news he will become crime buster anew

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Panfilo Lacson alleged that remnants of the old Kuratong Baleleng group remain and are behind the recent increase of criminal incidence in Metro Manila.

Lacson said the Kuratong Baleleng legacy lives on. "Patay na talaga sila, maraming remnants itong mga daring robbery holdap na ito."

Lacson faced the media for the 1st time after news broke that the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the case. The alleged rubout happened in 1995 when Lacson led the Task Force Habagat of the Estrada-led Presidential Anti-Crime Commission.

Lacson said that the Ozamiz crime group began under a renegade group of the Kuratong Baleleng, the Ungkoy Parojinog group.

He said they still continue to recruit members and still employs the same modus operandi in Metro Manila, Cavite and Batangas.

Lacson refused to be drawn into speculations if he will reprise his role as chief crime buster under the Aquino administration. Reports have been circulating that Lacson is being eyed by President Benigno Aquino III to become an anti-crime czar after his Senate term expires next year.

The Aquino administration's current anti-crime czar is Executive Secretary Paquino Ochoa, a close friend of the President. "I'll just cross the bridge when I get there." Lacson said.

He, however, prefers an anti-corruption role. "Nandoon kasi ang aking interest, I think I can help more (anti corruption) kasi kung anti-crime baka may makaaway ka pa eh in the sense na competition."

Derail presidency

He can only show relief that the Kuratong Baleleng rubout case is finally behind him, saying it was just used to derail the 1998 presidential candidacy of then Vice President Joseph Estrada.

Lacson noted many of his colleagues were affected by the controversies, with some dying while others leaving the country during the pendency of the case.

He said many witnesses came out even if they were not at the scene of the crime. "Finally, I feel relieved, happy na wala na talaga problema huling kaso ko na talaga to."

Lacson said the incident happened at a time when there were bank robberies almost weekly. Lacson said he and his former colleagues are planning a reunion and thanksgiving mass to be officiated by the PNP chaplain.

He said even his erstwhile colleague in the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission, Cezar Mancao, is welcome to attend though he is detained for another case.

Lacson tagged the camp of former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, the runner-up in the 1998 presidential elections and who was the candidate of the Ramos Administration, as the one behind their implication and the prolonged pendency of the case. "Nung mga panahong iyon, siyempre kung sino kalaban sa pulitika ni Vice President Estrada, yun nagpipilit na palabasin na rubout sila nagpupursige hoping na madala kuntrobersiya kay Vice President Estrada para makapekto sa kandidatura.”

Lacson clarified though that he has no proof if de Venecia himself was involved in the use of the case for political purposes. "But I was told by the late General (Jewel) Canson, namatay na siya, na may kinausap siya na kampo ni dating Speaker Jose de Venecia."

Lacson said the offer was for Canson to tag him in the case so that he will, in turn, implicate Estrada. "Hanggan dun lang, di binanggit sino kausap niya mismo."