One more chance: Panfilo Lacson runs for president again

Senator Panfilo Lacson filed his certificate of candidacy for president on Wednesday, October 6, alongside his running mate Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III.

Branded by his supporters as the "Heneral ng Bayan (Nation's General)," Lacson is running on the same platform that catapulted Rodrigo Duterte to Malacañang in 2016: a campaign against illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption. But Sotto and Lacson said they would do theirs differently.

Lacson, 73, rose in the government through the Philippine National Police. He was the PNP chief of president Joseph Estrada. After Estrada was ousted in early 2001, Lacson won a seat in the Senate that same year, and proceeded to win two more terms.

Lacson claims he has never received a share of the P200-million-a-year Priority Development Assistance Fund (pork barrel) allotted for senators, rejecting about P2.4 billion of the controversial funding scheme to date.

Under the administration of the late president Benigno Aquino III, Lacson stood as the rehabilitation czar after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated Eastern Visayas and surrounding regions in 2013.

Under the Duterte administration, he is known to be the author of the Anti-Terror Law.

Second attempt

This is Lacson's second attempt at the presidency. He first ran in 2004, suffering a landslide defeat in the hands of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and finishing third in a five-way race.

What has changed since for him to win? In an interview with Rappler, Lacson said he would no longer a lone wolf in 2022. "Ulila ako noon (I was alone then)," he said.

Lacson ran as an independent candidate in 2004 after an internal feud within the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino that pushed him to resign from the party.

Lacson stayed as an independent until 2021, when he was named the chairman of the revived Partido Reporma, thanks in part to former House Speaker and fellow Arroyo enemy, Pantaleon Alvarez.

Lacson and Sotto have been branded as "enablers" of Duterte who are criticizing him only for electoral purposes, but Lacson insists that he criticizes and praises when he believes it is fit to do so. –

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.