2022 Philippine senatorial race

Lacson-Sotto lenient with absent senatoriables: ‘They want to win’

Sofia Tomacruz, Rambo Talabong
Lacson-Sotto lenient with absent senatoriables: ‘They want to win’

2022 RACE. Presidential aspirant Senator Ping Lacson, running mate Senate President Tito Sotto with senate hopeful former PNP chief Guilermo Eleazar kick-off their campaign for the May polls at the Imus Grandstand in Cavite on February 8, 2022.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Sharing senatorial candidates is a compromise that presidential bet Panfilo Lacson and running mate Vicente Sotto III are willing to make as long as common bets remain 'fair'

MANILA, Philippines – The presidential-vice presidential tandem of Panfilo Lacson and Vicente Sotto III admitted on Wednesday, February 9, that they were “affected” by senatorial bets who skipped their proclamation in Cavite in favor of attending the rally of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

“We understand their position. They want to win,” Lacson said, pointing out that the Marcos-Duterte Philippine Arena proclamation eclipsed their Imus Grandstand crowd in size.

This comes after two of their Senate bets, reelectionist senators Migz Zubiri and Win Gatchalian, attended the Marcos-Duterte rally and only sent proxies to the Lacson-Sotto rally. Zubiri sent his wife, Audrey; Gatchalian sent his brother, Deputy Speaker Wes Gatchalian.

The tandem announced that former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista, whom they earlier named as a part of their slate and attended the Marcos-Duterte rally, had dropped out of their team. Bautista apparently wrote a letter asking if he could be the “representative” of the Nationalist People’s Coalition to the Marcos-Duterte “uniteam.” Sotto chairs the NPC.

Sotto said the two senators, Zubiri and Gatchalian, met with him days before the start of the campaign period to ask for his permission to attend the bigger proclamation rally.

Lacson and Sotto reiterated their rule for shared candidates: as long as they do not endorse their opponents, they will remain on the Lacson-Sotto team.

Limits, compromises

Lacson and Sotto said on Wednesday they would still expect their senatorial bets to at least help them with courting voters in their bailiwicks. For example, Migz Zubiri would still have to help the Lacson-Sotto tandem when they go to Mindanao.

What if the senatorial bets continue to snub the Lacson-Sotto sorties in favor of other tandems? Lacson said they would still stick to their “no endorsement, no expulsion” policy.

Lacson and Sotto first drew the line on Tuesday, their press conference in Cavite before their proclamation rally.

On Wednesday, Lacson admitted they were “loose” with their rules, saying he understood the candidates. He noted that, when he was running as an independent for the Senate, he gained endorsements from politicians belonging to different political parties.

Must Read

Shared candidates: Parties out, personalities in

Shared candidates: Parties out, personalities in

Shared candidates are a recurring peculiarity in Philippine politics, with popular candidates, usually Senate bets, appearing on different, sometimes opposing, slates. Common candidates were seen in the elections of 1998, 2004, 2013, 2016, and 2019. 

The 2022 elections once again sees this on full display. It’s a concession to the reality of Philippine politics, Rappler columnist John Nery noted in an episode of In the Running. 

“The reality is our party system is very weak, so political dynasties – and many of these [candidates] come from political dynasties – are the equivalent of political parties…. Really, it’s an indictment of Philippine political reality that politicians need to share common candidates,” Nery said. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@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.