Firm seeking franchise in 2016 tried to bribe senators with P20M: Lacson, Sotto

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 08 2021 06:16 PM | Updated as of Jun 08 2021 06:53 PM

MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said a company tried to give him and Senate President Vicente Sotto III an "8-digit" bribe in exchange for the approval of its congressional franchise in 2016.

The issue was brought up while Lacson bared some of his "frustrations" in Congress during an online press conference.

"There was a time, during the last Congress, mayroon nagpadala sa office ng lobby money from a congressman, dahil may pending na measure, a legislative franchise Act na pending sa plenaryo," the senator said.

(There was a time, during the last Congress, a congressman send lobby money to my office because there was a pending measure, a legislative franchise Act that's pending in plenary.)

"Bagong elect na SP si Titosen (Titosen was just elected as Senate President then). I remember telling him that being new SP, he will be sending a clear message regarding his stand against corruption," he said.

Lacson declined to name the congressman who sent the money and how much it was, but Sotto told reporters that the offer was at P20 million.

"Wala na. Nadala na sa amin siguro," the Senate President said in a text message to reporters when asked if another offer was made after they refused to accept the first bribe.

(No more. They might have gotten sick and tired with us.)

Lacson said he informed the company that they were returning the money.

"Kilala ko yung president ng kompanya. Kaibigan ko 'yung presidente. We made him aware na hindi namin kinuha," he said.

(I know the company's president. He is a friend. We made him aware that we did not receive the money.)

"Hiyang-hiya 'yung kaibigan ko. Nakipag-set ng meeting. In-outsource daw nila [yung nag-lobby]. Hindi sila nakipag-deal," said Lacson.

(My friend got ashamed. He requested for a meeting. According to him, they outsourced the lobbying and were not directly dealing with it.)

Lacson, a former police chief, is contemplating a possible presidential bid in 2022 with Sotto as his vice president.

When asked about the timing of his expose, the senator said: "I actually wanted to deliver a privilege speech on that incident. But on second thought, baka hindi maganda dating sa mga colleagues ko. And that I might appear na nagpapabida (it might leave a bad taste for our colleagues and I might appear to be hogging the spotlight)."

"Basta ang important hindi namin tinanggap because para ano pa ang anti-corruption advocacy kung lip service lang pala," he said.

(What is important is we did not accept it because what good is my anti-corruption advocacy if it is just lip service.)

Lacson noted that was not the last time somebody attempted to bribe him for his vote in plenary.

"One time, while in the plenary deliberating on a tax measure, my staff informed me that a lady wanted to see me in my office upstairs even for 2 minutes. She was carrying a bag," he said.

"I told my staff not to mind her and that I wasn’t going up for it... I found out later na P10M daw yun (that she was going to offer P10 million)," he said.

"I'm not casting aspersion on anyone, but these things happen," he said.

Lacson said these were among the reasons why he would not seek for another term in the legislative chamber.

After nearly 2 decades in the Senate, Lacson said he would either run for president next year or just retire from politics.

Video from the Office of Sen. Panfilo Lacson