Lacson: Maybe no conflict of interest in Bato's Vegas trip

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 14 2016 02:54 PM | Updated as of Nov 14 2016 03:32 PM

Filipino boxer and Senator Manny Pacquiao (R) and Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa show to the media Pacquiao's boxing winning belt during a news conference upon arrival, after winning WBO welterweight bout with Jessie Vargas, at Ninoy Aquino International airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila in the Philippines, November 8, 2016. Erik De Castro, Reuters

MANILA - A senator and former police chief on Monday said it is possible that there was no conflict of interest when PNP Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa accepted a free trip to Las Vegas.

The Ombudsman last week said it was investigating whether Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa violated the code of conduct for public officials when he watched Senator Manny Pacquiao's last boxing match at the lawmaker's expense.

In an interview with ANC's Headstart, Senator Panfilo Lacson said his initial reaction on the probe was that conflict of interest would have been present if it was Dela Rosa who spent for Pacquaio, considering that they are investigating extrajudicial killings in the Senate.

"Si General dela Rosa, siya yung may conflict of interest kung siya yung nanlibre dahil nga baka sakaling would be soft on him when we investigate," he said.

(If General Dela Rosa, if he paid for others, there would have been conflict of interest because it would suppose that we would be soft on him when we investigate.)

"But it was the other way around—wala naman sigurong kailangan si Senator Pacquiao kay Ronald dela Rosa at mas may kailangan si General dela Rosa," he added.

(But it was the other way around—Pacquiao probably did not need anything from Dela Rosa and it was Dela Rosa who needed something.)

Lacson however emphasized that the law was clear, citing Republic Act 6713 which prohibits soliciting and accepting gifts, especially of that magnitude.

"That was my reading before, but when you read that particular provision, yun—soliciting, accepting, lalo kung yung material value nung ibinigay masyadong malaki, parang out of proportion, [ay bawal]" he said.

(That was my reading before, but when you read that particular provision—soliciting, accepting, especially if the material value of the gift was too big, out of proportion, is prohibited.)

He added perhaps no government official had not received a gift at one point in their public service career. "Depende nga lang kung ano yung usapang involved," he said.

He nevertheless lauded Dela Rosa for being upfront about not using government funds for his family's trip abroad, "unlike probably previous Chiefs PNP or the others."

"I appreciate the candidness, the candor of General dela Rosa. Sabi niya, sige, kung makukulong ako dahil mali pala—not everybody knows the law especially if you’re not a lawyer as Ronald is not a lawyer, so sabi niya, hindi ko naman alam na ganun. He was just being honest. I’ll still give it to him,"he said.

(I appreciate the candidness, the candor of General dela Rosa.)

Lacson is also adamant that the Ombudsman was only fulfilling its role when the office ordered a probe.

"Regardless of what’s in the mind of Ombudsman Morales, may mandate siya saka merong batas and she should do her mandate pag-interpret nung what’s in 6713 or 3019, whatever the law is," he added.