MANILA, Philippines – While other candidates also brought their policy proposals to the Commission on Elections’ presidential debate on Saturday, March 19, arguably none of them dropped the same volume of statistics to back their answers as Senator Panfilo Lacson.
From reinvigorating the economy to preventing the next pandemic, Lacson had a number ready up his sleeve. He wrote them down as he waited for his turn to speak, and dealt them on his turn.
Lacson opened with a combo breaker.
The first question asked for the sector that should be revived first as the country rose from the COVID-19 pandemic. Candidates ahead of Lacson responded citing agriculture, attaching little to no data to back their answers.
Then came Lacson, a scout with his digits.
“I first focus on MSMEs – micro, small, and medium enterprises. Why? Because 99.5% of our enterprises are from MSMEs, and we lost 400,000 jobs from 5.7 million,” Lacson said. His answer was echoed by Vice President Leni Robredo.
He pulled another highlight when the question came about continuing the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build program.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno spoke first, saying he would continue the program because it helped Filipinos.
“For our citizens, it was a success,” Moreno said in Filipino, appending no numbers to support the assessment.
Then Lacson was called.
“We are asked if it was a success. Out of 118 projects, only 12 were accomplished. You be the judge. Let our citizens be the judge if it was truly a success,” Lacson said in a mix of English and Filipino.
With the country’s debt ballooning, he offered private-public partnerships in infrastructure projects as an answer. He was once again seconded by Robredo, who came after him.
On how the country could better face the pandemic as it entered its third year, Lacson looked ahead, saying that the current funding for research – a measly .4% of the national budget – was simply not enough. It was so low that Lacson called the allocation “pathetic.”
He exhibited the same familiarity with the data as he answered questions about the proposed four-day work week and his plan for sending students back to classrooms.
Data-backed performance was not new to the veteran lawmaker. During the debate earlier organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, he also rose above other candidates with his meticulously arranged set and his sleek PowerPoint presentation.
Lacson tumbled in another debate, which was organized by CNN Philippines because the bell cut him off enough times before he could deliver his point.
With the Comelec debate on Saturday, Lacson showed not only a firm hold on his numbers, but now also of his time – delivering his point across at his own pace without an instance of interruption. – Rappler.com