Lacson hints at Erap's role in disappearance of Bentain

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2009 10:13 PM | Updated as of Sep 23 2009 06:14 AM

MANILA -- Senator Panfilo Lacson hinted that former president Joseph Estrada may have something to do with the disappearance of Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) employee Edgar Bentain in 1999.

During his privilege speech, the senator said his investigation has caught a conversation between a police officer and “a resident of Polk Street in Greenhills” regarding Bentain’s disappearance. The conversation reportedly took place a day after the Pagcor employee was reportedly killed.

“A police officer, still active at that time, went to Polk St in Greenhills and reported compliance with a ‘mission accomplished.’ The house occupant simply said, ‘Sige, sabihin mo sa mga bata, maraming salamat,’” Lacson said in his speech.

Although the senator did not identify who the “house occupant” was, it was clear that he was alluding to Estrada who has a house in Polk Street in North Greenhills.

“I did not identify the criminal simply because I did not have any participation or direct personal knowledge of these criminal activities while they were taking place years ago. My investigation is ongoing even as I speak today,” said Lacson.

Bentain was the video operator of Pagcor who allegedly came out with a footage of then candidate Vice President Estrada gambling in the casino.

The footage was used by then presidential candidate Manoling Morato against Estrada during his campaign for the 1998 presidential elections.

A year after the footage was exposed, Bentain was reportedly abducted by unidentified men at the parking lot of the Grand Boulevard Hotel in Manila. He has not been seen since then.

Lacson said Bentain was reportedly killed “somewhere in Laguna.”

3 short stories

Lacson also took a swipe at Estrada’s son Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada insinuating that the former president’s son deals with the Arroyo administration and even against the former president.

This was contained in the “three short stories” Lacson narrated which while Jinggoy was not directly named and identified was about “a son, a brother and an elected senator of the Republic.”

The first of the “stories” was about a conversation between two male persons, one in Los Angeles, California, the other, in Las Vegas, Nevada during the summer of 2000.

He said that among those who participated in the conversation was about to be extradited to testify in the plunder case faced then by the Estrada family.

Voice No 1: Pare, kung uuwi ka... kung ano man ang plano mo, huwag mo na kaming idamay ni mommy; si daddy na lang.... kaya niya namang i-depensa ang sarili niya... May ambisyon pa ako. Magpre-presidente pa ako... ako ang bahala sa 'yo.

Voice No 2: Bahala na. Di ko alam pag-uwi ko.

Lacson insinuated that Voice No. 1 belonged to Jinggoy. He said “we now know that the father was convicted, while the mother and son were acquitted.”

The second story was about an alleged conversation between Jinggoy and a supposed gambling lord in Baguio City.

“The elder brother, after being informed that a younger brother was receiving a monthly jueteng payola of P1 million, called the attention of the jueteng operator and told him, thus: ‘'Yung P1M na ibinibigay mo sa kapatid ko, hatiin mo... sa akin mo ibigay ang kalahati... Baka gamitin lang pambili ng drugs iyong pera,’” said Lacson.

Lacson said that aside from the P500,000 cut from the younger brother, “the elder brother (Jinggoy) had a regular monthly payola of P800,000 from another jueteng operator from Bulacan, P1M from Chavit Singson and unspecified amount from yet another gambling lord from Pampanga.”

The third story was about an alleged conversation between Jinggoy and an incumbent Cabinet secretary.

Jinggoy reportedly said: "Sec, natalo ako ng P10M. Bigyan mo ako ng project bukas."

“The following day, a member of the senator's staff would call on the secretary to follow up on the project. I had no time to check if a project was given, and if so, how much,” said Lacson.

Lacson however did not say how he learned of the conversations and when the conversations were supposed to have taken place. He also did not produce an audio of the supposed conversations.

Jinggoy, who was expected to respond to Lacson’s privilege speech, said he will deliver his own speech on Wednesday to answer his colleague’s allegations.