Angelo Mawanay, alias “Ador,” is either lying or telling the truth. The information he discloses is very detailed but it does not provide a neat picture of the world of crime he inhabits. The more he tells, the more incredible his story sounds. His confession would make of newlyelected Senator Panfilo Lacson the biggest crime lord in the country. But some of the names he has dragged into the picture are “friendly forces,” people that one would not normally associate with Ping Lacson or his men.
He says Ping Lacson once “lent” him to PNP Gen. Edgar Aglipay who wanted him to deliver 10 kilos of shabu to Bert Lina, brother of DILG Secretary Joey Lina. (He supposedly refused because the procedure was unusual and risky.) He says he once heard Police Superintendent Michael Ray Aquino talk by phone to someone he was addressing as “Mr. President” and whom Aquino later identified as former President Ramos. Ramos was supposedly negotiating a contract for PR man Bubby Dacer’s head.
The National Bureau of Investigation has run two polygraph tests on Ador to determine if he is lying. The first was inconclusive, but the second he supposedly passed. Now the investigators are daring Senator Lacson to go through the same lie-detector test. Lacson has replied by asking AFP Intelligence chief Col. Victor Corpus to go take the test himself.
I have read the transcript of the interview with Ador. I also had the chance to meet him and to talk to him a few days ago. His narrative contains numerous allegations of fact that can easily be checked. Instead of leaving it to a machine to determine if he is telling the truth, the investigators should verify the existence of people, places and things he mentions in his account. This guy is cool and glib. For a man who is only 28 years old, I admire his nerve. If he was invented as a tool to demolish the reputation of Senator Lacson, then his handlers have written for him a fabulous script that he has committed to memory. For he tells it with tremendous composure and clarity.
What if Ador is telling the truth? Then we must believe that since 1998, Ping Lacson and his lieutenants have presided over the most vicious crime syndicate in the country, with various teams deployed for smuggling, drug-running, kidnap-for-ransom, and assassination. We have to believe that the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized
Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) led by Lacson was nothing but a cover for criminal activities. And we will have to conclude that indeed crime is being used to destabilize the present government and to pave the way for the eventual capture of the presidency by Ping Lacson either by coup or by election.
Ador says he was part of an 11-man PAOCTF team, consisting of 8 enlisted personnel and 3 civilian assets. He claims he started out with the group initially as a peddler of smuggled “Ma Ling” canned meat and cellphones. Later, he was assigned to case the homes and study the routines of intended kidnap victims. He says he participated in the 1998 abduction of Edgar Bentain, the operator of the closed-circuit camera that recorded Joseph Estrada while playing in a casino with his friend Atong Ang. He claims that he saw the expresident’s son, Jude Estrada, personally hand money to Col. Michael Ray Aquino as payment for the liquidation of Bentain.
The same team led by Col. Aquino, he says, was responsible for the abduction of Bubby Dacer and his driver last year. The victims were brought to Cavite and killed there. More recently, he says he did surveillance work for the kidnapping of Mary Grace Cheng inside the UP campus in Quezon City. Cheng, he claims, was among the 15 persons targeted by the group for kidnapping or assassination from June to August this year. Ping Lacson himself met them in a house in Marikina on the night of May 11, 2001 or just a few days before the election, to give them this important assignment. The whole idea was to create political instability and to show the government to be helpless, while raising funds at the same time.
Three of the 15 planned abductions were subsequently carried out – those of Mary Grace Cheng, a businessman surnamed “Gertrudes,” and another Chinese person by the name of Yeo. Cheng was freed after her family paid ransom, but there are still no police reports on Yeo or Gertrudes.
Is Ador for real? Why has he suddenly surfaced to tell this fantastic tale? Survival, he says. Their team has been disbanded. Only 3 members are still alive; the rest have all been eliminated, including “Mang Ben,” the man who brought him into the group and mentored him. Their boss, now a senator, he surmises, wants to begin his term with a clean slate.
ISAFP Chief Col. Victor Corpus has all the reason in the world to be interested. Ador’s revelations have national security implications. Corpus says he is willing to quit his job if Ador turns out to be a fake and if it is shown that he has knowingly or inadvertently allowed his office to be used as a center for a demolition job against a senator of the Republic. It’s his credibility that is at stake now against Ping Lacson’s.
The problem with deliberately telling a lie, says the philosopher Nietzsche, is that you must have the imagination to tell twenty others to make good the first. Under normal circumstances, it is less burdensome mentally for a person to tell the truth than to weave a narrative of lies. One can however have a complex family life and learn to lie instinctively. “So he lies in complete innocence.” Which one is Ador?
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