Unity requires a leader with moral ascendancy – Lacson

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Unity requires a leader with moral ascendancy � Lacson
Mayor Benjamin Magalong gestures as he gives Partido Reporma standard bearer Sen. Panfilo Lacson and his running mate Senate President Vicente Sotto III a tour of Baguio City on Saturday. Partido Reporma’s senatorial candidates Guillermo Eleazar and Emmanuel Piñol joined them.
STAR / File

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Unity in the country can be achieved only if the leader has moral ascendancy; without it, people will only be divided, Partido Reporma standard-bearer Sen. Panfilo Lacson said over the weekend.

“Unity, you can get that in moral ascendancy. Without it, how can you achieve unity?” Lacson said in a press briefing with Manila-based reporters covering him on the campaign trail.

The presidential aspirant said he and his running mate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, are offering good, clean, effective and efficient governance, which is now capturing the consciousness of the people.

He recalled having imposed the no-take policy in the Philippine National Police when he was PNP chief.

“When the leader leads by example and there is moral ascendancy, there’s unity. Without moral ascendancy, people will always be divided,” Lacson said.

As he went hiking in Tan-awan, here, last Friday morning, Lacson appreciated how locals started asking him why Sotto – who was attending another commitment – was not with him.

“That’s a good indication because it appears that people are becoming conscious of our tandem… A lot of people really asked about him: ‘Senator Ping, where is the Senate President? Why isn’t he with you?’” noted Lacson.

Lacson assured the public that if they win, he and Sotto will observe the council-of-two, in which they will both discuss all issues before coming up with decisions.

Last Saturday, they were joined by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong in praying at the Baguio Cathedral and strolling down Session Road on their way to Burnham Park, where they relaxed and talked over coffee.

City residents were free to approach the presidential duo and snap a few pictures as they were also joined by Partido Reporma senatorial bet Guillermo Eleazar and adopted candidate Emmanuel Piñol.

“To me, the very warm reception given to us by Mayor Magalong and the people of Baguio, which I know represents the bigger part of Cordillera, is more than enough. I cannot ask for more,” said Sotto.

Magalong had publicly declared his support for Lacson and Sotto and vowed to deliver them votes in the May 9 elections.

Plan for IPs, mining

Lacson, who is running on an anti-corruption brand of leadership, promised to protect the interest of indigenous peoples (IPs) and push for responsible and sustainable mining.

He has planned a special program and funding set aside for IPs, including those in Baguio City who grew from a mining settlement in the mineral-rich Cordilleras.

Lacson also underscored his support for responsible and sustainable mining, which could help boost the country economically as it continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the ban on mining had recently been lifted by the Duterte administration.

The issue came up during a hybrid dialogue and press conference with members of the Rotary Club International District 3790 Cluster 1C and the media, when he and Sotto were asked about their stand on mining.

Although the Philippine mining industry only contributed some P189 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), Lacson pointed out it had great potential with the reported trillions of dollars’ worth of mineral wealth just underneath the ground waiting to be brought up responsibly.

He noted that IPs have suffered the brunt of irresponsible mining, which is another offshoot of the corruption that he aims to eradicate from government.

“The problem in mining is irresponsibility. Again, we go back (to the root problem). Why? Corruption again, right? The program for IPs, because they are the ones there (near the mines), they are the ones who suffer when irresponsible mining firms leave their (operations), leave the environment (in ruin), the IPs are those who suffer in the long term,” he said.

Lacson said the government should continue to push for sustainable mining, “in the sense that it will be used to improve the economic condition of our country.”

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