Lacson flags return of 'kotong' cops amid pandemic

Published October 16, 2021, 11:46 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Saturday, October 16, disclosed reports the corrupt policemen have turned to markets of Manila to extort not only money, but also goods, from poor vendors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A member of the ​Manila police uses a megaphone to remind shoppers at the Blumentritt Market on March 16, 2021 to wear face masks and face shields amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). (Ali Vicoy/MANILA BULLETIN File Photo)

The former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief said this as he lamented the alleged return of “kotong”, or extortion, and “day-to-day corruption” in the ranks of the country’s police force.

In an interview over DZRH radio, Lacson cited his supposed conversation with vendors recently in Manila’s Divisoria commercial district.

“Ngayon daw iba na. Ang pulis, for some reason, may listahan na bawa’t pondohan sa lugar na pinagtitindahan. Listahan na binibigay. Ito dapat inyong ibigay, gulay, prutas, paninda (Kotong is back but has evolved. For some reason, police now present vendors with a list of items they should be getting, such as a cut of the fruits, vegetables or whatever they are selling),” Lacson claimed.

Lacson recalled that during his stint as PNP chief from 1999 to 2001, vegetable traders transporting their goods from La Trinidad, Benguet to Divisoria, Manila or Balintawak, Quezon City had to pay P1,000 to so-called “kotong” cops.

He said he kicked out the rogue cops from the service, resulting in savings for the vendors, who no longer had to charge extra for their vegetables just so they can meet the “quota” from the extorting policemen.

“Balik na naman tayo. Day-to-day corruption (We are again dealing with day-to-day corruption),” he lamented.

Lacson said the PNP leadership should not only punish the erring policemen, but should also lead by example to address the problem.

The senator, who is running for presidency in 2022, vowed to practice leadership by example should he win as the country’s next top leader.

He and his running mate, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, also pledged to address corruption in government by sending corrupt Cabinet officials to jail.