Monday, January 3, 2011

Singson vs. Ping Lacson: The Difference

Ilocos Sur Congressman Ronald Singson faces possible jail time in Hongkong. Several months ago, Singson was arrested with about 26 grams of cocaine under his possession. His lawyer, John Reading, says that Singson will plead guilty to a lesser offense of possession, than what Hongkong authorities accused him of, drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is a serious offense. 

Members of the Philippine Congress led by Speaker Sonny Belmonte has proposed that ethics committee proceedings be initiated against Singson, which Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson opposes. He believes that the House should wait for the decision of the Hongkong courts before taking action against his son. He likewise, compared his son's predicament with that of "fugitive" Senator Ping Lacson, who continues to hold office despite having a standing warrant of arrest. 

There is a gulf of difference between the case of Lacson and that of Congressman Singson. Lacson is a dubious suspect in a case that has turned political; while Singson was caught in flagrante delicto of alleged drug trafficking.

Lacson is being accused of masterminding the killing of PR man Bubby Dacer. He is just a suspect, despite numerous statements from alleged perpetuators of the crime clearing him of any complicity. Lacson decided to evade the warrant because he believes that he is being unfairly accused of something which he did not commit. He says that the case has politics written all over it and has, in fact, attained such magnitude that it has befuddle the case. He wants a re-investigation, or at least, a review or re-appreciation of the statements given by former colleagues in the PNP who already exonerated him from any participation or knowledge about the killing.

In Singson's case, the Ilocos sur Congressman was caught red-handed with cocaine under his possession. Wagging tongues say the good Congressman was on a "test buy", meaning, he went to Hongkong to try and convince several Hongkong "drug lords" to "buy" the cocaine, which was allegedly a sample of the one ton of cocaine recovered from a sunken vessel off Samar a few weeks prior to his arrest. Some news reports say, it was Singson's HK drug contact who alerted HK immigration authorities about Singson's "package". 

Singson denied such claims. He says thru his lawyer Reading, that the cocaine was just for his personal consumption and not for selling. Drug trafficking is a serious offense in the mainland and could lead either to imprisonment or death. He remains on bail. 

Singson was arrested on drug charges in a foreign land. Reason why several Congressmen wanted his head is the possibility of Singson using his office to gain concessions on his drug charge. Several influential businessmen with interests in the Philippines might approach him and ask him to enter into several uncompromising agreements which would undermine the sovereignty of this country. 

Singson still represents our country. The possibility of him compromising our sovereignty and allow foreign powers to influence him remains big. Chinese officials could offer him a lighter sentence in exchange for favoring pro-HK or pro-Chinese projects or proposed legislation. This is an ethical case.

In the case of Lacson, the "fugitive" Senator is not using his office to aid him in his continued evasion of his standing warrant of arrest. He is not being influenced by foreign powers, nor the possibility of him being used by businessmen for their advantage remains extremely low. An ethnics probe can only proceed if there is reasonable cause to believe that a legislator uses or continues to use his office for his personal benefit or if a legislator compromises the integrity of the House, which he is a member. 

Therefore, it is reasonable for the House to initiate ethics proceedings against Singson, even if he pleads to a lesser offense of drug possession.