2022 Philippine Elections

Solo no more: Lacson now heads revived Reporma party

Rambo Talabong
Solo no more: Lacson now heads revived Reporma party

PARTY LEADER. Senator Panfilo Lacson at the Senate chamber.

Rappler screenshot

Independent senator Panfilo Lacson joins and becomes the chairperson of the Partido Reporma for the 2022 elections

The independent senator Panfilo Lacson will finally join a party as he seeks the presidency in 2022, becoming the chairman of the revived Partido Reporma.

This was disclosed by Lacson himself on Wednesday, July 28, in a Kapihan sa Manila Bay online forum with his prospective running mate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

On Thursday, July 29, Lacson took his oath with Reporma officials inside what appeared to be a hotel room. If his 2022 bid pushes through, it would be the retired police general’s second presidential run. Lacson ran for president in 2004 as an independent, but lost to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

He said two people spoke with him about joining and leading the party: the founder, former defense secretary Renato de Villa, and the politician behind the party’s revival, former House speaker and incumbent Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

“When he formed this and already went around, he told us ‘We need a leader [in] 2022, maybe you can prepare,'” Lacson quoted Alvarez, the party’s current chairman, as saying.

Lacson’s meeting with Reporma comes a day after Sotto met with his own party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, which he chairs. The two parties are expected to form an alliance for 2022.

Why join Reporma?

De Villa formed Partido Reporma in 1998 to back his presidential run with his running mate, then Pangasinan governor Oscar Orbos. Both lost to Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, respectively.

Partido Reporma last won a seat in the House of Representatives in 2004, clinching just a single district representation. It faded from view after that.

According to Lacson, when De Villa checked their records recently, he jokingly said they have all been “burned.”

Still, former police chief Lacson said he felt he belonged with the party.

De Villa, like Lacson, is a military and policeman who served as chief of the Philippine Constabulary and director-general of the Integrated National Police in 1986 and was concurrent vice chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 1987.

In 1988, De Villa was promoted to chief of staff of the Armed Forces by then president Corazon Aquino.

Lacson said he was also urged by fellow graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), who, he said, dreamed of seeing a PMA graduate president in their lifetime.

As for Alvarez, Lacson said their relationship grew when the former was House speaker. When Alvarez was ousted from the post, Lacson immediately called for a lunch with him, further deepening their ties.

Alvarez used to be one of Duterte’s most loyal lieutenants until he was unseated as Speaker at the House, thanks in part to Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, who has once described him as “Machiavellian.”

Now, Alvarez has become critical of the Duterte administration, and his nurturing of Reporma is expected to be a threat to Sara’s regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, as both count Davao as their bailiwick.

What does Reporma stand for?

Founded in 1998, Partido Reporma, according to its official website, advocates for the following:

  • People’s sovereignty and democracy
  • Social justice and responsibility
  • Environmental awareness
  • Decentralization and devolution of powers
  • Strong economic foundation
  • Voters education

It also listed five “pillars” of its platform:

  1. General welfare and happiness of the people
  2. Honesty and integrity in public service
  3. Respect for the rights and dignity of everyone
  4. Balance and healthful ecology
  5. Inclusiveness

It remains to be seen how these Partido Reporma advocacies would be translated into the policies that Lacson and Sotto would promote. They are set to formally launch their candidacies with the announcement of their senatorial lineup on August 4. – 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.