“What is right, must be kept right; what is wrong, must be set right.”
Senator Panfilo Morena “Ping” Lacson means everything he says. You can trust his word. And he says what he wants to say especially when it is the truth and it stands for what is right.
On occasions, his can be a sharp tongue. He means no harm. He only wants to bring everyone to his wits and senses. There is no body language needing mystical interpretations. There is no doublespeak needing complex deciphering.
These two characteristics are ingrained in the Lacson family of Imus, Cavite. Despite its humble status, the family reared and nurtured its children on the values of integrity and self-discipline.
Inspite of financial hardship, Ping’s parents were grimly determined to send everybody to school. Poor as they were, Ping’s parents always reminded their children – “Wala kaming maaring iwanang materyal na bagay para ipamana sa inyo maliban sa edukasyon. Ang edukasyon ay hindi maaring mawala o agawin ninuman. Sukdulang hindi kami kumain nang tatlong beses isang araw, makatapos lamang kayong lahat sa pag-aaral.” Aside from being very, very honest and hardworking, Ping’s parents were likewise gifted with determination and courage to pursue their goal and obligations. In reverence, their children now try their best to make their remaining years on earth comfortable, but being very simple folks, they still insist to live modestly in their old house in Imus, Cavite.
Ping took the family name he is carrying by heart and grew up a very principled person.
Ping spent three years of pre-law in Lyceum of the Philippines before a high school friend invited him to take the entrance examination for admission to Philippine Military Academy . His fascination with principles became more deeply embedded at the PMA where he graduated in 1971. He nourished those principles at the Philippine Constabulary which he joined after graduation. He worked on them at the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (1971-1986), PC-INP Anti-Carnapping Task Force (1986-1988), as Provincial Commander of the Province of Isabela (1988-1989), as Commander of Cebu Metrodiscom (1989-1992), and as Provincial Director of the Province of Laguna (February to July 1992). He would nourish the same principles at the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission as Chief, Task Force Habagat (1992-1995). He would live by them at the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force as its Chief (July1998-January 2001). And he would apply them to everyone at the Philippine National Police Chief, PNP (November 1999-January 2001).
I.C.U. is the simple and straightforward acronym which Ping Lacson used to describe the ills of the police institution. In his 14-month stint as “chief PNP,” Ping, now a senator of the realm, used to summarize the institution’s malaise as a case of the Inept, Corrupt and Undisciplined cop. For years and years, this is exactly how the public has come to characterize the man who is supposed to protect him from crime and malevolence. A slothful and bumbling keystone cop, addicted to sleaze and graft, whether lowly kotong or the more lucrative jueteng intelihensya, or worse, wired to drug syndicates. It was an image that had stuck in the public mind, of a protector one does not welcome, feared not by criminals but by the victims themselves.
So low was the PNP in public esteem that according to surveys then, its net satisfaction rating was negative 18, cellar dweller among government institutions. Ping went into the lecture circuit, and admonished his men, officers as well as lowly cops, about the evils of being I.C.U. And his antidote was just as simple and straightforward — cops must have Aptitude, Integrity and Discipline. A.I.D. was the medicine, bitter though it was to many, that Lacson forced doses upon them.
First in his agenda was the immediate return of recovered carnapped vehicles as well as vehicles being held as evidence. Apparently, as a matter of practice, a number of policemen have illegally appropriated for themselves these vehicles for operational, and at times personal purposes. Hundreds of cars, in various makes and colors, suddenly showed up in the police camps, and car theft victims were delirious at recovering their possessions. The few who dared to defy the orders were identified, arrested, dismissed from the service and charged in court.