Senators Panfilo Lacson and Vicente Sotto III see themselves as “alternative” candidates in the 2022 elections, saying they are neither opposition nor administration bets.
“We can provide a good alternative. We’re not pro-opposition, we’re not pro-administration. We’re pro-Filipino,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in an online press briefing with Senate reporters on Thursday, July 22.
While supportive of the administration, Sotto and Lacson have gone against the government on several occasions, namely the handling of the pandemic, the assertion of the Philippines' rights over the West Philippine Sea, and the anti-drug campaign.
Sotto was asked why he and Lacson decided to run for 2022 – a decision which they have all but officially confirmed together with a matching lineup of senatorial candidates. Sotto is the chairman of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), while Lacson is an independent candidate.
Lacson has not been adopted by NPC, but Sotto sees a party decision being reached by July 28, when the NPC’s top officials meet. They are set to make the “formal” announcement on August 4.
Sotto and Lacson have consistently slammed the Duterte government’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. They wanted to form a government which could do a better job. When a reporter asked about Sotto and Lacson’s platform focus on Thursday, however, Sotto mentioned the need for budget reform.
Sotto was referring to the proposed Budget Reform for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) Act filed by Senator Lacson in 2019. The bill aims to guarantee an annual Local Development Fund to help LGUs in provinces, cities, towns and barangays implement three-year development plans.
The funds will only be released to the LGUs if they are deemed capable of spending them, as certified by the Local Government Academy.
Sotto sees BRAVE as an alternative to federalism “without changing the constitution.” He said what matters is that the government “bring down the money to the people.”
They are expected to release a more comprehensive list of policies on August 4.
“We’re not seeing collisions with these parties at the local level,” Sotto said in Filipino.
When Sotto announced that he and Lacson held an evening of “auspicious” talks with Aksyon, he said that he would push for an alliance when he spoke with his NPC party mates.
Aksyon at the time said they were also in talks with other 2022 tandems and that they have not committed anything to the pair.
In the end, Lacson and Sotto's most powerful potential backers would be Sotto's NPC party mates. In 2019, 3 senators, 36 House lawmakers, 7 governors, and 6 vice governors won when they ran under NPC. – Rappler.com
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.