August 28, 2001, Inquirer, Lacson would buy GMA-7, Inquirer if he had P37B, by TJ Burgonio, Inquirer News Service,
Posted:3:59 PM (Manila Time)
Would be in Forbes Park or SF
SEN. Panfilo Lacson is confident that he will survive the Senate investigation of his alleged involvement in drug trafficking, money laundering and other crimes.
"Even if the Senate hearings take a year, (military intelligence chief Col. Victor) Corpus and company won’t be able to come up with any evidence, solid or otherwise," he said at a media forum Monday at the Manila Hotel.
Lacson maintained his innocence of the money-laundering charges, saying: "If I have 37 billion pesos, you won’t see me here or in BF Homes (Parañaque). If I'm not in Forbes Park (Makati), I'll be in Hillsborough (San Francisco).
"If I have 37 billion pesos, I won't have problems with the media. I would buy ABS-CBN. I would buy Channel 7. I would buy the INQUIRER."
Lacson said the Senate should press ahead with its hearings on the matter despite the proposal for termination aired last week by his colleagues in the opposition, Senators Blas Ople and Tessie Aquino-Oreta.
"If they want, they can suspend (the hearings) for a year or two and give Corpus enough time to gather evidence. I go for that. That's how confident I am that they won't find anything," Lacson added.
He was echoing Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel's position that the hearings be suspended to allow for the arrival of documents from the US Justice Department. Pimentel, however, did not specify a time frame.
But Lacson is not all that ready to attend the next Senate hearing on the issue.
"If they are prepared to present evidence, then I think I should be there to be confronted with that evidence. But if they're going to say the same accusations without a leg to stand on, I don’t see any reason to be there," he said.
Might not attend next hearing
Later in the day, Lacson said he might not attend the next hearing because "no one can assure that your temper will not . . . explode when they hurl charges in your face."
He also questioned the "indecent manner" with which Malacañang supposedly showed its determination to pin him down.
"Why do they have to cross branches of government, the Senate being an independent branch of government?" he said. "Why does the Palace have to step in to prod, advise or intimidate (the committees to investigate me)?"
Lacson said he was leaving it to the majority bloc in the Senate to "terminate, suspend or continue" the hearings. "I don't care," he said.
His only fear, he said, was that the hearings were destroying the integrity of the Senate as an institution.
Despite his earlier avowals that he would confront his accusers, Lacson has snubbed the two earlier hearings jointly conducted by the Senate public order, national defense and blue ribbon committees. He said this was "out of propriety" and upon the advice of Sen. Edgardo Angara.
At the Manila Hotel forum, Lacson said Corpus and his witnesses would not find any proof of the senator's alleged million-dollar bank accounts in the United States, Canada and Hong Kong.
He again said he once opened an account in the United States in 1995 but that he closed it a year later. He added that his wife Alice also had two accounts--one dormant and another that contained "a negligible amount."
He reiterated that the Citibank regional office in Singapore had certified that his alleged accounts were nonexistent and that he was not a client of the bank.
Lacson also belittled the testimony at last Thursday's hearing of Reynaldo Wycoco, director of the National Bureau of Investigation, that an agent of its US counterpart had confirmed one of his supposed accounts in the United States.
"They said there's a verbal confirmation from the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). Well, that's what they’re saying. But where's the confirmation?" he said.
Lacson said he was willing to face extradition to the United States if the authorities could produce verified documents that he was maintaining million-dollar accounts there.
"Anywhere, even Timbuktu, I'm willing to be extradited," he declared.
He said he found it ironic that he was now being accused of such crimes as kidnapping and drug trafficking, which, he pointed out, he tried to stamp out when he headed the Philippine National Police.
"It’s unfair that now that I’m out of the service, they are accusing me of all these things. It hurts. It's so frustrating," he said.
Lacson also threatened to turn the tables on Corpus, saying that he would present at the Senate Question Hour documents that would show the military intelligence chief as an illegitimate military officer.
"What we have here is an officer heading the most sensitive position in the (Armed Forces) with no legitimate backing to speak of in the first place," he said. With a report from Armand N. Nocum