The tandem of Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto are definitely running for president and vice president, respectively, in next year’s national elections, Lacson confirmed on Tuesday.
Sotto as early as June said he would "definitely" be Lacson's running mate if the three-term senator and former national police chief would run for president.
"We’ve gotten our feet wet with our Tour of Luzon, so we will go into the deep end," Lacson told GMA News in Filipino.
Lacson and Sotto have gone on a series of consultations with local officials in Luzon over the past few weeks.
Sotto said he and Lacson would make the official announcement of their candidacies on Aug. 5, after completing their remaining consultation meetings in the Cagayan Valley, which has more than 2.2 million voters as of 2019.
They will then proceed to the Visayas, comprising three regions with almost 13 million votes in 2019.
The Mindanao meetings will be done in-between sessions after July 26, he added.
Previously, Lacson said the challenges confronting the country could still be addressed by real leadership and hoped that the 2022 elections would revolve around pressing issues and not turn out to be another “campaign of entertainment.”
The former PNP chief recalled his experience in dealing with police corruption and how he used a single standard for everyone, regardless of rank, and tried hard to show leadership by example.
“If your subordinates see you violating your own standards, why would they follow your orders? That is why there is no substitute for leadership by example,” he said.
Lacson also expressed alarm over the national debt that has ballooned to P11.071 trillion as of May, and the possibility it may continue to grow even before the end of the Duterte administration amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are now 110 million Filipinos. Easily each of us, even those born just today, will already be saddled with a debt of P100,000,” Lacson said.
Buoyed by public support for their tandem, Lacson and Sotto last week virtually confirmed they will be running for the nation’s top posts.
“They are glad,” Sotto said of the people they consulted. “It’s very emboldening. They were pleased and encouraged us to pursue the programs we presented to them.”
“They have many questions in our open forums. And the programs that we are developing seem to meet their needs spot on,” the Senate President said after he and Lacson went to Bulacan, Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and Ilocos Sur provinces.
Sotto said they met with various communities and political leaders, including Narvacan Mayor and Ilocos political kingpin Chavit Singson, and the Ortegas of La Union. They also met with their longtime supporters in Pangasinan, a traditionally contentious political battleground with almost 2 million votes.
Sotto said he and Lacson were pleased local leaders showed some unity and were not adversarial, regardless of their political affiliations.
“It has been quite amusing because even those in the religious sector said they did not mind the political noise. They were more concerned about what has been happening to the country, and what affects them most,” he said, reporting the “disillusionment” in the countryside.
“The concern is more about the advancement that they have achieved over the past years,” Sotto said. “I put it this way: Of the country’s current P11-trillion debt, did they benefit from it somehow? That is the kind of feedback we have been getting.”
“If in the old days, there used to be a sentiment among Cebuanos about the so-called Imperial Manila, here in Luzon, there’s also that feeling,” he added.