For Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Pampanga will always be memorable for him not just because of its Parol (Christmas lanterns) and culinary pride, but also because of one of his biggest law enforcement achievements.
Lacson, who personally attended his and Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III's Kumustahan rally here, said he and his men spent Christmas 1992 and New Year's Day 1993 in Pampanga trying to neutralize a notorious kidnap-for-ransom gang.
"Hindi ko makalimutan, noong 1992 dito kami nagpasko sa San Fernando kasi dito ang area of operation, nagkaroon kami ng technical surveillance (I cannot forget Pampanga. I spent Christmas of 1992 in San Fernando because we were holding technical surveillance then)," he said.
He said their quarry at the time was Alfredo "Joey" de Leon, leader of a kidnap-for-ransom gang. De Leon's Red Scorpion Group had been tagged behind several kidnap-for-ransom incidents, which occurred three to four times a week during the early part of the Ramos administration.
At the time, Lacson was the newly appointed head of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission's Task Force Habagat, which was tasked to stop kidnapping, holdups and other heinous crimes.
Lacson also recalled he and his men had to spend the holidays eating biscuits and sardines on the hood of their vehicle.
"Our then chairman, then Vice President Joseph Estrada, gave us until yearend 1992 to stop the gang. We got the job done in February 1993 when de Leon was killed in an encounter at the boundary of Pampanga and Bulacan," he said.
"Hindi ko makalimutan kung ako napunta sa Pampanga, yan ang aking iniikot (So I cannot forget Pampanga because that is what I remember when I visit or pass through here)," he said.