2022 Philippine Elections

Housing for all? Gadgets for students? Lacson says no to unrealistic promises

Rambo Talabong
Housing for all? Gadgets for students? Lacson says no to unrealistic promises

DOING THE MATH. Presidential candidate Panfilo 'Ping' Lacson explains why other candidates' grand promises are not feasible during a pre-proclamation press con on February 8, 2022. Angie de Silva/Rappler

‘Hindi puwedeng kunin sa kuwentuhan at bolahan ang pagtakbo sa pagkapangulo,’ he says before the launch of his presidential campaign

CAVITE, Philippines – Don’t expect presidential bet Panfilo Lacson and his running mate Vicente Sotto III to make promises that are nice to hear but impossible to deliver on.

“Hindi puwedeng kunin sa kuwentuhan at bolahan ang pagtakbo sa pagkapangulo,” Lacson said on Tuesday, February 8, in his first press briefing as a presidential candidate as the 2022 campaign period began. (You can’t wage a presidential campaign making empty talk and weaving tall tales.)

Lacson was in his hometown Imus, Cavite, with running mate Sotto and senatorial candidate former police chief Guillermo Eleazar to launch their campaign. (BOOKMARK: LIVE UPDATES: Ping Lacson-Tito Sotto proclamation rally)

Lacson was asked if they would finally talk about other candidates in the campaign, after holding a pact that they would avoid doing so. He said if the platforms of other candidates were mentioned and if they needed to be corrected, his team would speak up.

Doing the math

He cited examples of unrealistic promises by other candidates, but refused to name the rivals.

First was the promise of providing housing for the poor and homeless. Taking in consideration the country’s 5.3-million housing backlog, Lacson said a single unit of a vertical housing costs P580,000; if it’s built on a 40-square-meter lot and assuming the house measures 24 sqm, it would cost P750,000, based on 2019 data. The entire program would then require P500 billion per year from the national budget.

The second was the promise of giving a tablet each to millions of students having difficulty catching up with distance learning.

Lacson said there were almost 30 million students in the country, implying a huge cost. Current market prices for cheaper tablet computers range from P3,000 to 20,000 each.

Presidential candidates Manny Pacquiao, Isko Moreno, and Leni Robredo have varying promises to address the housing problem. Pacquioa and Robredo have made promises about providing students with gadgets.

“We dont make promises like that. We studied the data. If it’s not data driven, we won’t promise this,” Lacson said.

Lacson and Sotto are longtime legislators, clocking in years of probing government agencies on why administration promises fall through. They wish not to commit the same mistakes.

Lacson’s own promises

So far, Lacson and Sotto have not made absolute promises of their own, only goals: fighting corruption and reducing criminality.

They aim to hold a no-frills and platform-focused campaign, insistent that they hoped Filipinos would see they were the most competent.

Lacson’s “promise of no promises” was consistent with his statements in earlier interviews.

When asked on the spot about his stand on a particular issue, he insisted on studying policies, like abortion and the regulation of online cockfighting, before weighing in on them.

Lacson and Sotto said they did not mind that their campaign did not stand out through massive gatherings like what other camps had mounted.

They wanted to stand out with their platforms and promises that they can fulfill. – with Lorenz Pasion/Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.