Lacson or Pacquiao as NPC's presidential bet a 'possibility,' says Sotto

Either Senator Panfilo Lacson or Senator Manny Pacquiao may end up becoming the presidential candidate of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) in 2022, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, chairman of the party.

This was how Sotto replied to reporters on Monday, June 21, when asked if NPC would move to adopt his close friend and ally Lacson as its standard-bearer should the latter gun for the presidency.

Lacson, an independent senator, is still mulling over his presidential bid. But if Lacson guns for the highest post in the land, then Sotto becoming his running mate would be "cast in stone."

"That is a possibility, but I cannot speak for my entire party at this point when it comes to a presidential candidate. I can get the support of the majority of them but I cannot dictate on my part whom they should support," Sotto said via teleconferencing app Zoom.

The NPC chairman gave a similar answer when asked if the party would be open to adopting Pacquiao as a possible presidential bet.

"Well, anything is possible at this point," said Sotto.

Pacquiao, acting president of the ruling PDP-Laban, is rumored to be eyeing the presidency in 2022. But a faction within PDP-Laban is allegedly hatching a plot to oust him from the party.

Pacquiao is a close friend of Ilocos Sur political kingpin Luis "Chavit" Singson, mayor of Narvacan, who recently took his oath as a member of NPC.

Sotto, however, said most of the PDP-Laban members he recently spoke to are still supporting Pacquiao.

NPC was founded in 1992 by the late tycoon Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr. for his failed presidential bid. It was the first and only year so far that NPC fielded its own presidential candidate.

In 1998, NPC had backed the successful presidential candidacy of Joseph Estrada, who had been Cojuangco's running mate in 1992.

In the 2016 polls, the party endorsed Senator Grace Poe for president. But she finished third in the race, after now President Rodrigo Duterte and former interior secretary Mar Roxas.

Sotto said it is also possible for NPC to field one of its members in the 2022 presidential race, but they are still in the process of consulting party mates.

"May possibility pero pinag-uusapan pa lang namin. Wala pang malinaw, nothing concrete," said Sotto. (There's a possibility, but we are still talking about it. Nothing clear yet, nothing concrete.)

Should he decide to seek any post in 2022, Sotto believes his party mates would throw their support behind him.

Sotto said he and other NPC officers plan to visit their members nationwide to "get the sense, get the feel" of what they want the party to do in 2022.

Sotto said this is their plan to ensure NPC would not disrupt its members' ongoing programs to combat the coronavirus pandemic in their respective localities. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

image