2022 PH presidential race

In Baguio, Lacson challenges youth, reunites with ex-classmates

Sherwin de Vera
In Baguio, Lacson challenges youth, reunites with ex-classmates

YOUTH AS GAME CHANGERS. Senator Panfilo Lacson speaks at the Tumindig Youth Empowerment summit of the Baguio City Sangguniang Kabataan Federation at the Baguio Convention Center.

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Presidential aspirant Senator Panfilo Lacson and his running mate Senate President Vicente Sotto III meet with local youth officials and Philippine Military Academy alumni in Baguio City

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – In his two-day visit to Baguio City, senator and Partido Reporma presidential aspirant Panfilo Lacson challenged the youth to be discerning in their votes. He also spent time rekindling his ties with his batchmates in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

The senator spoke about discipline and proper use of authority before members of the city’s Sangguniang Kabataan during their Tumindig Youth Empowerment seminar on December 17 at the Baguio Convention Center.

In his message, he told them to “take interest in social issues and strive to find solutions.”

“Envision the kind of society that you would like to have and look for ways on how you can contribute to the achievement of such vision,” the senator said.

Lacson reminded them that the youth are the hope of the country and its future. “I say you are not just the hope of the future but you are the future. You are the game changers, especially this advent of the incoming political exercise. You are the movers of democracy,” he said.

Be discerning, critical

Lacson urged the participants to exercise their right to vote. “Be discerning and critical and be aware of the impact of your choice for the three years for local officials and six years for the national,” he added.

He also emphasized that the 1987 Constitution mandates the protection and empowerment of the youth and recognizes the sector’s vital role in nation-building, recalling the legislative measures he contributed to the mandate. The most recent, Republic Act No. 11476, institutionalized values education and good manners and right conduct in the K to 12 curriculum.

He also mentioned the institutional amendments he introduced in the 2022 budget, adding to the Department of Education allotment P100 million for the child protection program, P90 million for integrated learning and resource centers for learners with disabilities, P425 million for alternative learning centers for the marginalized, and P1 billion for the last mile schools’ program in conflict-affected areas.

Lacson, who was with his running mate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, said their team will deliver “concrete, implementable, and future proof strategy not only to make survive from the health crisis but more importantly to thrive as a nation.”

‘Controversial’ class

On December 18, Lacson joined his fellow PMA alumni at Fort Del Pilar for the 50th graduation anniversary of the “Matatag” Class of 1971.

In his speech before his fellow cavaliers, the senator said they are “the most controversial class to emerge from the academy.” 

“In times, when we are called to be of service to our fellow men, never did we turn our backs. Instead, we wore our badges with honor and dignity,” the senators said. “We stood at the forefront of armed rebellions and peaceful revolutions that set the course of our nation’s history,” Lacson continued.

Before joining the Senate, Lacson served as the chief of the Philippine National Police under the presidency of Joseph Estrada. He also headed Task Force Habagat of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission chaired by then-vice president Estrada.

‘Digital renaissance’

Lacson also noted the significant change in the digital information landscape, citing the creation of the National Cyber Defense Academy and Baguio City’s and the National Transmission Corporation’s Project Lighting, which seeks to provide internet connectivity to households, schools, and government offices while providing a defense against cyber attacks. He said such developments were “unimaginable” during their time in the academy. 

“Between you and me, what we can now anticipate appears to be a ‘digital renaissance’ in the next three years,” said Lacson, also one of the authors of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

He said technology will revolutionize people’s connectivity, “[addressing] speed, cost, and efficiency requirement to literally connect everything.”

Lacson said the Baguio Smart City Command Center is an excellent example of digital governance that creates economic opportunities. On Friday, he visited the facility when he delivered his talk with the Baguio SK federation. – Rappler.com

Sherwin de Vera is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship