“Nabasa na kami hanggang tuhod. Wala ng atrasan to.” With this statement, Sen. Ping Lacson declared that there would be no turning back in his candidacy, and that of Senate President Tito Sotto, for President and Vice-President in the May 2022 election.
Interviewed on HeadStart on ANC, the Lacson-Sotto tandem revealed that unification talks with Vice-President Leni Robredo failed because she wasn’t amenable to the formula Lacson proposed. Lacson was not at liberty to disclose the details of the proposal as there was a prior agreement on confidentiality. He did say though that Robredo was still open to the possibility of her running when they met.
The two aren’t conscious of their standing in the various surveys which have come out because they are the only one who have formally declared their candidacies for the two highest posts in the land. They are confident that their numbers will change once the other candidates have made their intentions known, which is when public sentiment would be on more solid ground.
The two downplayed the age factor, saying that while they may be septuagenarians, there is no substitute for their wisdom, experience and track record with a combined eighty years total of service to the Filipino people.
Lacson downplayed the comments made by his and Sotto’s detractors, saying he will not stoop to their level. It is up to the public to decide, Lacson said. Reacting to the claim that they are “enablers” of the President as made out by former Sen. Antonio Trillanes, Lacson said that he gives praise when and where it is due and criticizes when it is needed. Sotto added further that they are not pro-opposition or administration but simply, pro-Filipino.
The focus on KKK, Kakahayan, Karanasan at Katapangan, is their campaign slogan and this best typifies the kind of leadership and service they will render to the Filipino people if elected in 2022. Lacson bared that their complete platform is still in the process of being finalized but he gave an idea about their stand on hot-button issues such as the economy, the drug war and the South China Sea dispute with China.
Lacson isn’t in favor of new taxes as he believes the Filipino is taxed out. He is pushing for budget reform and the minimization of corruption in the government bureaucracy as the lynchpin of his economic recovery strategy, in addition to the other measures which have already been passed at the initiative of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez. Lacson believes these are good laws which the government should implement properly.
Sen. Lacson maintained his no-concession stand on the issue of the pork barrel, particularly lump-sum budget insertions parked in different government agencies and departments. Lacson said he will push for the efficient and productive use of the national budget to accelerate regional development. He hopes to pass his landmark Budget Reform for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) Bill before the end of regular session of Congress next year. He also declared a hands-off policy on business, saying that government regulators enforce the law strictly because corruption was behind it. Violators will be prosecuted, he stressed but he will ensure that there will be no coercion or persecution on the part of bureaucrats who are looking for a payoff.
On the drug war, Lacson and Sotto were in agreement that it would continue under their watch but with the adoption of a more holistic approach which includes prevention and rehabilitation of drug dependents. Sotto is still for the imposition of the death penalty for convicted high-level drug lords.
On the South China Sea dispute, Lacson is not comfortable with the present level of closeness the country has with China. He is in favor of warm ties between the two countries but on the same level of reciprocity. Sotto, for his part, said he would push for the enactment of the long-delayed baselines law, which defines the territory of the Republic as per the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. He is also for the joint-exploration of oil and gas resources, not only with China, but with other countries which also has the technology because of the looming decline in production from the Malampaya platform, which supplies majority of the energy requirements of the Luzon grid.
By far the most interesting revelation was the fact that the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and Reporma, to which the two belong, have not finalized a deal with Aksyon Demokratiko, which they met with last week. Aksyon was represented by its Executive Vice-President Vico Sotto. The meeting was brokered by Malabon City Mayor Lenlen Oreta.
This comes on the heels of the reports today that Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso is set to join Aksyon Demokratiko. It would appear now that the Manila City Mayor is running for President. His rumored campaign manager is former Manila Economic and Cultural Affairs chief, Angelito Banayo. The latter bade regular readers of his column in the Manila Standard goodbye yesterday. Lacson also met with the camp of Domagoso but the talks fizzled out because the Manila Mayor insisted that he be the Presidential candidate of the ticket.
At this point, it appears that we will have a three-way race for President and Vice-President in 2022. A fourth may be in the offing if Vice-President Robredo throws her hat in the race. What is evident now is, it is the Lacson-Sotto tandem which has the most experience in government and the capability to start functioning in their respective roles if fate smiles upon them on May 2022.
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