The break is official. A Ping Lacson – Tito Sotto tandem it will be! Truth be told, this tandem has a clearer path to the Presidency than the so-called Opposition that continues to be in a state of shambles. Vice President Leni Robredo as titular head of the Liberal Party had done nothing to unite the Opposition so far. The same is true with 1Samabayan, which has now relaxed its selection process, with its statement that they are open to taking in Sen. Manny Pacquiao into their fold should he be nominated.
The Lacson-Sotto tandem would be a viable alternative for voters who don’t identify as Dilawan (loyal to the Aquinos and Cojuangcos) or DDS (“Duterte Die-hard Supporters”). No less than eminent political strategist, Malou Tiquia, has mentioned the significant number of both pro-Administration and pro-Opposition supporters who have become “persuadable” voters. This is an interesting niche to tap considering that the 21-45 demographic is 40M strong. Lacson-Sotto would be a kinder and gentler alternative to the Duterte brand of politics. Both candidates have a track record of experience in public office. Sotto focused on the Senate since his election and rose through the ranks learning the intricacies of parliamentary procedure even if he is not a lawyer. Lacson has also taken his legislative position seriously with a Master’s in Government Management from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila under his belt. He also has executive experience having been Provincial Director of Laguna and Isabela. He was also Cebu Metrodiscom Commander and Chief of Task Force Habagat under the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) during the Ramos administration.
The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) headed by Sotto is the oldest political party still in existence since 1992 when it was founded by Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. for his Presidential run. The NPC boasts a vast national and local machinery in key provinces. It also has the most number of possible Senatorial candidates in the persons of Sen. Loren Legarda, Gregorio Honasan and Chiz Escudero. They are in addition to incumbent Sherwin Gatchalian. The NPC is also looking at adopting Senators Joel Villanueva, Migz Zubiri and Richard Gordon. Lacson and Sotto’s political experience also serves them well. One of the new members of NPC is Narvacan Mayor Luis Chavit Singson. Singson is the incumbent President of the Mayor’s League of the Philippines. This bodes well for the NPC in drawing and firming up support at the local level.
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What the tandem needs now is a disruptive campaign platform that will convince the public that they are the better option against the administration in light of the same disruption caused by the pandemic. Foremost on the minds of voters are economic recovery, public health and education. Lacson understands what ails the bureaucracy having developed a reputation as the budget expert of the Senate specifically when it comes to pork barrel or lump-sum insertions. Sotto can use his experience as Senate President to become the consensus-builder between the Executive and the Legislative.
The duo hasn’t made public their platform yet as they have slated August 5 as the date of the announcement of their decision. But seeing as how Atty. Goyo Larrazabal has stated that the NPC will not be renewing its coalition agreement with Hugpong ng Pagbabago, it’s evident that Sotto has crossed his Rubicon. For all we know, 2022 could be a showdown between two candidates which works to the advantage of the public. A Lacson-Sotto defeat wouldn’t be a total loss as they can step into the role of the responsible and mature Opposition — one that is not a destabilizer but a more a fiscalizer in the public interest and, most important of all, a genuine partner in nation-building.
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