Presidential hopeful Lacson files candidacy with Sotto as running-mate

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Presidential hopeful Lacson files candidacy with Sotto as running-mate
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson file their candidacies before the Commission on Elections on October 6, 2021.
Released / Lacson-Sotto Media Team

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:31 p.m.) — Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III formalized their joint bid for the presidency and vice presidency Wednesday, filing their candidacies before the Commission on Elections.

"It is time to restore the dignity and self-respect of every Filipino inside and outside our country," Lacson said in a speech delivered in Filipino at the Sofitel tent in Pasay City. "When the leader is sober and respected, the average Filipino wins." 

"Between Sen. Lacson and I are 42 years of legislation, which we firmly believe holds an excellent track record," Sotto said in his own speech. "We know the ills, we know the solution." 

This marks Lacson's second Malacañang run after a failed bid in 2004.

He will be running as the standard-bearer of Partido Reporma, the chairmanship of which he took over in July after years of identifying as an independent.

Reporma and the Nationalist People’s Coalition, which is chaired by Sotto, are expected to forge an alliance for next year’s polls.

Lacson placed sixth in Pulse Asia's most recent presidential survey while Sotto topped the vice presidential poll. Sotto leads President Rodrigo Duterte, a vice presidential hopeful at the time the survey was conducted, by 11 points. 

A tandem of veteran lawmakers, Sotto is on his fourth term as senator while Lacson is on his third.

Lacson was Philippine National Police chief from 1999 to 2001.

He also served as President Benigno Aquino III's presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, coordinating efforts to help victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Before he won his first Senate seat in 2010, Sotto served as vice mayor of Quezon City. Between his second and third terms as senator, he served as chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

'Duterte alternative'

Like Duterte in 2016, the tandem places primacy on governance marked by discipline and order.

But they vow a break from what they characterize as the Duterte style of leadership, with Lacson saying at the formal launch of their tandem last month that he and Sotto would lead with "proven competence, integrity, and courage."

Lacson also promised to prioritize as president the country's pandemic response, stricter management of public funds, and granting more autonomy to local governments.

Although they are campaigning as alternative candidates to Duterte, both Lacson and Sotto are part of a Senate majority that has generally legislated according to the president's agenda. 

Lacson was the principal sponsor of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, a measure that petitioners before the Supreme Court say has potential for abuse and could be used to silence legitimate dissent and criticism.

Sotto has also defended on several occasions Duterte's flagship campaign against illegal drugs despite its high death toll and criticism that it is actually a campaign against the poor.

Lacson criticized the "drug war" as a "failure" only this year — more than five years into its implementation.

In August, they met with de facto opposition leader Vice President Leni Robredo to propose a "unification plan" for 2022, which involved opposition candidates withdrawing in favor of whoever performing best in surveys close to the election.

Talks fell through after Robredo said there would be no backing out if she chooses to seek the presidency. Another Palace hopeful, Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno, has also said he would not be willing to make way for another candidate.

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