January 1, 2002, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Op-Ed, Lacson behind plot to bomb metropolis? by Ramon Tulfo,
WHEW! We should thank our lucky stars alert military intelligence agents seized 100 blocks of plastic C-4 explosives before they could be used to maim or kill people and destroy property.
The seized explosives, of the very handy C-4 type, were capable of blowing up big buildings. They were confiscated from members of the Navy commando team that used to be assigned with the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Forces (PAOCTF).
Being held for investigation are Lt. (jg) Anthony Miraflor and eight of his men from the disbanded Special Reaction Unit, an elite unit within the elite Special Warfare Group (SWAG) of the Navy. SWAG is the local counterpart of the US Navy Seals. Miraflor and his men are in the custody of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp).
If the name Miraflor sounds familiar to you, he and his men were pinpointed as being involved in recovering illegal drugs dumped into the sea from ocean-going ships entering the country. Miraflor and his men, who were expert divers, did it for PAOCTF which reportedly was heavily involved in the traffic of illegal drugs.
The notorious PAOCTF, whose members were implicated in the abduction and murder of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer, was headed in a concurrent capacity by then Philippine National Police chief Panfilo Lacson.
And surprise! Surprise! Who do you think interceded for the release of Miraflor and his men after they were arrested by Isafp agents? Their former boss, Sen. Panfilo Lacson!
Lacson wrote a strong letter to Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes asking for the immediate release of Miraflor and his men.
Why was Lacson very interested in the immediate release of Miraflor?
Before that question can be answered, here's a piece of important information about the C-4 explosives seized by the Isafp agents from Miraflor and his men:
According to Isafp sources, they were of the same type used in the bombings of public places in Metro Manila on Dec. 31, 2000.
The explosives seized recently by Isafp agents were issued to Miraflor and his men in Sept., 2000, three months before the terrorist bombings that killed at least 17 persons.
What did that mean? That the explosives were already in the custody of Miraflor and his men before the Dec. 31, 2000 bombings. Could they have planted and exploded those terrorist bombs?
Was Miraflor's group planning to explode more bombs exactly one year after the bombings in public places? They could have if they were not arrested and the explosives confiscated on Dec. 28 by Isafp agents, according to my sources.
After the Dec. 31, 2000 attacks, then PNP and PAOCTF chief Panfilo Lacson arrested some alleged members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Lacson said the MILF wanted to avenge its defeat at the hands of the military earlier that year.
The Moro suspects were later released because there was no evidence against them.
My sources in the military and police intelligence say that Lacson could have masterminded the Dec. 31 bombings.
The terrorist attacks, the sources said, were meant to divert public attention from Erap's impeachment trial.
The second most powerful man in the Erap administration (second only to Erap himself), Lacson had everything to lose if his boss got booted out of office as a result of being found guilty in the impeachment trial. He was looking forward to the 2004 presidential election. Erap had to remain in office at any cost.
But as in all the other cases against him, Lacson could not be pinned down on the bombings. He was very good at covering his tracks.
Diverting public attention from important issues by terrorist bombings is not new. The Marcos government did that so he could justify the imposition of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972. At the time, Marcos had become very unpopular because he wanted to hold on to power even after his second term would have expired.
But Marcos was a "benevolent" terrorist compared to Erap and Lacson, according to my intelligence sources. In the bombings that led to martial law declaration, there were no fatalities. In the Dec. 31 bombings, 17 people lost their lives and scores of others were badly wounded.
Lacson, a confessed fan of Marcos, outdid his idol because he is more ruthless.
This is only speculation, but it was to Lacson's best interests that he interceded for the release of Miraflor and his men who were caught in possession of the powerful explosives.
Under intense questioning, who knows what Miraflor and his men might tell their interrogators at Isafp.
Lacson probably wanted Miraflor and his men to know that he was not leaving them to the dogs. That way, he still would get their loyalty and they would keep mum.
When he was still a young Constabulary lieutenant assigned at the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG), Lacson learned that loyalty was a two-way traffic.
If you showed concern for your men, so the military mindset goes, they would not squeal on you if they were caught carrying out "dirty missions."
If Lacson would not show concern for Miraflor and his men they might implicate him in the destabilization plot.