Hands down, Election 2022 will be a two-way race with Lacson-Sotto as the New Opposition

Would it serve the interest of the Opposition if there are candidates other than the tandem of Senators Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto running for President and Vice-President respectively? In my opinion, the windows of opportunity for Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Senator Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao have been shut. This is per the latest Pahayag survey conducted by Publicus Asia.

Former House Speaker Bebot Alvarez displayed his political prowess in 2019 by winning over the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) candidates in his bailiwick but we all know that Davao City Mayor Inday Sara “Daugherte” doesn’t take any slight, perceived or otherwise, sitting down. 2022 is a grudge match between the two. If she does run, you can be sure she will focus on the areas where her candidates lost in their Mindanao bailiwicks. The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) –Partido para sa Demokratikong Reporma alliance will only get stronger with the inclusion of the Liberal Party, formally or informally. The targets are the Opposition bailiwicks of Region 5 and 6. The Solid North may not be that solid with Manong Chavit joining the NPC. The vote-rich regions, however, are the National Capital Region (NCR), Region 3 and Region 4-A.

To my mind, a one-on-one showdown between the administration and Lacson-Sotto works to the latter’s advantage. But the final battle will be fought on the ground as election day nears. The regional and provincial parties all cut a deal with then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte when it was clear he was leading back in 2016. Then Vice President Jejomar Binay lost the support of the Remullas. The Revilla and Tolentino clans were the first to cast their lot with Duterte then.

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The battle in Negros Occidental will be interesting because Albie Benitez is running against Bing Leonardia for Bacolod City Mayor. Cebu is another battle ground because Sotto traces his roots there while Lacson was Metrodiscom commander when he was still with the Philippine Constabulary. Lacson is a native Caviteño and was also Provincial Commander of Laguna and Isabela. His survey numbers are lower than Vice President Leni Robredo but this works to his advantage because they have nowhere to go but up. He has consistently been in the top 5 or 10 of the Senate races he’s run in.

Lacson and Sotto also have the added advantage of experience and track record in government service which other candidates don’t have. They will hit the ground running if they are victorious on May 2022. My money is still on a two-way race for 2022 for the two top posts.

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