Philippine Daily Inquirer

Despite past ties, new NBI chief says he won’t cut Ping some slack

- By Tina G. Santos

NEWLY appointed National Bureau of Investigat­ion (NBI) DirectorMa­gtanggol Gatdula yesterday assured the public that his former boss, fugitive Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, would receive no special treatment from the agency.

Lacson is on the lam frommurder charges in the killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2000.

Gatdula, a former police officer, was under Lacson in the defunct Presidenti­al AntiOrgani­zed Crime Task Force (Paoctf). Lacson had also served as Philippine National Police director general during the shortlived Estrada administra­tion.

“If he surfaces, he will be arrested. There’s a warrant issued by the court. No special treatment for him. President Aquino and (Justice) Secretary (Leila) de Lima have spoken. Who am I to go against their instructio­ns?” Gatdula told the INQUIRER over the phone.

Gatdula’s appointmen­t was controvers­ial because of his past ties to Lacson.

While he used to be a member of Paoctf, Gatdula said he was not involved in the Dacer-Corbito case.

“I used to be part of Paoctf, butmyname was never dragged into the case. I am now focused on serving as NBI director. Gagawin natin ang dapat gawin sa bureau (We will do what must be done in the bureau),” he said.

Gatdula said that as far as the Dacer-Corbito case was concerned, the ball was now with the courts. Lacson fled the country in January days before the arrest warrant forhimcame­down. Hehas said he would not return until several motions he had filed in the SupremeCou­rt had been resolved.

Most of the NBI’s officers and personnel had earlier expressed dismay over the appointmen­t of Gatdula, an outsider, as director but they said they would rally behind him for the good of the organizati­on.

Lawyer Reynaldo Esmeralda, NBI deputy director for technical services, said they did not intend to protest Gatdula’s appointmen­t although they had hoped that someone from their ranks would have been appointed.

“We really wanted an insider to be appointed NBI director. We will be hypocrites if we say that we are happy that an outsider was appointed,” Esmeralda said.

“But as a profession­al organizati­on, we have to accept the decision of the President. Definitely we have no choice but to welcome the appointmen­t of General Gatdula,” he said.

Esmeralda said bureau personnel had assured Gatdula of a smooth transition and their support. “It’s but natural that some opposition would be aired. But we assure him of our support. We must set aside hurt feelings and work with the new director,” he said.

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