Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III are the first tandem to formally announce their presidential and vice presidential bids for the 2022 Philippines elections.
Their candidacy announcement, which took place on Wednesday, September 8, was the first in Philippine history to be taped and edited before airing. Dressed casually in plaid shirts and jeans, the two spoke to a combination of a live audience and video call viewers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What did Lacson and Sotto do before setting their sights on the two highest positions in the country? Get to know the potential presidential and vice presidential candidates.
Panfilo Lacson, senator
- Political party: Partido Reporma (chairman
- Years in government service: 17 years as senator, 32 years with the Philippine National Police
- Positions held
- Senator (17th-18th Congress, 2016 to present)
- Presidential Assistant on Rehabilitation and Recovery (2013 to 2015)
- Senator (12th-15th Congress, 2001 to 2013)
- Chief, Philippine National Police (November 16, 1999, to January 20, 2001)
- Home city and province: Imus, Cavite
- Lost his 2004 presidential bid against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
- Delivered a privilege speech on August 23, 2017, on the “tara system” or bribery at the Bureau of Customs; subsequently filed a complaint for graft and economic sabotage against former BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon over the latter’s alleged involvement in rice smuggling in September of the same year.
- Co-authored and sponsored Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which gives the government more powers to act against persons or groups who fall under what critics say is a dangerous and vague definition of terrorism.
- Murder charges were filed against Lacson and his men for shooting 11 members of the Kuratong Baleleng syndicate in an operation in 1995 criticized as a “rubout.” In 2003, Judge Theresa Yadao of Quezon City regional trial court dismissed the case against them for lack of probable cause. In 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed the murder case with finality.
- Lacson went into hiding in January 2010, after a local court issued a warrant for his arrest in relation to a the November 2000 murder of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito. Lacson denied any involvement in the killings and blamed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration for persecuting him. He came out of hiding in March 2011. In November of that year, the Supreme Court affirmed a Court of Appeals ruling to clear Lacson of the charges.
- During the Martial Law years, from 1971 to 1986, Lacson was part of the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG). In Dark Legacy: Human rights under the Marcos regime, historian Alfred McCoy wrote that Lacson, together with MISG commander Colonel Rolando Abadilla and comrade Robert Ortega, “tortured [suspected subversives] together.”
- Co-authored and sponsored RA 11053 or The Anti-Hazing Law of 2018, which prohibits hazing and imposes harsher penalties on organizers and participants in hazing.
- Co-authored RA 10969 or The Free Irrigation Service Act, which waives irrigation fees for farmers who own eight hectares of land or less.
- Led a legislative probe in 2020 into alleged red-tagging of political progressives by the security establishment. He was one of the eight senators who condemned the red-tagging of community pantries in April.
- Statements and actions on the key issues
- PANDEMIC: Lacson has called for the replacement of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and said the government should stop relying on the private sector when it comes to the pandemic. “It is pathetic that our national health authorities are no different, being reactive instead of proactive. Knowing the Delta variant has already gripped India and Indonesia, it seems they have not prepared adequately,” Lacson said on July 23, 2021. Lacson was one of the authors of RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.
- WEST PHILIPPINE SEA: Lacson was one of the senators who supported Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in demanding that Chinese military leave Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) in the West Philippine Sea. “Filipinos should stand foursquare behind DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for making known his strong position in defending our country’s sovereign rights over the Whitsun Reef (Julian Felipe Reef) – and, before that, the Mischief Reef, occupied by the Chinese during the period 1994 to 1995 and the Scarborough Shoal, which China cordoned off in 2012,” Lacson said on April 5, 2021.
- SOCIAL INEQUALITY: “Kapag kakampi, libre; kapag kalaban, tutuluyan. Hindi ka magsu-succeed kapag double standard ka,” Lacson told Rappler on August 11, 2021. (If you’re their ally, you walk free; if you’re an enemy, they’ll go all the way. You will not succeed if you have double standards.) He was commenting on Duterte’s war on drugs and why it failed.
Vicente Sotto III, Senate president
- Political party: Nationalist People’s Coalition (chairman)
- Years in government service: 28 years
- Positions held
- Senator (15th-18th Congress, 2010 to present) – Majority Floor Leader from 2010 to 2013, Senate President from 2018 to present
- Chairman, Dangerous Drugs Board, Office of the President (July 2008 to November 2009)
- Senator (11th-12th Congress, 1992 to 2004) – Majority Floor Leader from 2002 to 2004, Minority Floor Leader in 2002
- Vice Mayor, Quezon City (1988 to 1992)
- Home city: Manila
- Sotto was criticized for saying single mothers are “na-ano lang” (just got knocked up) to Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, a solo parent. Sotto said this during Taguiwalo’s confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments (CA) in May 2017. In response, Taquiwalo said: “Senator Sotto, I teach women’s studies. We respect all kinds of families and that includes solo parents. Thank you.”
- Sotto was criticized for “victim-blaming” on Eat Bulaga’s “Juan For All, All For Juan” segment aired on July 9, 2016. During the episode, the segment winner shared how her male friend had taken advantage of her when she was drunk, and Sotto then suggested the woman shouldn’t have been drinking in the first place. Sotto defended his remarks as freedom of expression, saying: “What I was looking at really was, there should be a preservation of institution of marriage. When you’re married, you act like a married man or a married woman.”
- Sotto was accused by the Kennedy clan in 2012 of plagiarizing part of a speech by the late US Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Sotto used the text in his own speech against the Reproductive Health Bill (now RA 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012). Sotto apologized for this in 2012, but defended his speech again in 2018.
- In 1997, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reported that Sotto was accused of harboring links with drug lord Alfredo Tiongco, who allegedly financed Sotto’s 1992 senatorial campaign. Sotto denied any links, but said he sought police protection for Tiongco, who approached Sotto after allegedly receiving death threats.
- Authored the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act 9165), which serves as the government’s framework in battling illegal drugs.
- Authored the Family Courts Act of 1997 (RA 8369), which established family courts with exclusive jurisdiction over child and family cases.
- Authored the Kasambahay Law (RA 10361) for the protection and welfare of domestic workers.
- Co-authored RA 11053 or The Anti-Hazing Law of 2018, which prohibits hazing and imposes harsher penalties on organizers and participants in hazing.
- Statements and actions on key issues
- PANDEMIC: “I could not imagine any other president in the past [who] would be able to handle this pandemic, yes, in the ideal way that we would want it to be…. I will not go to that extent of saying that the problem we’re in now is because of the President. I don’t think so,” Sotto said in a Rappler Talk interview on March 25, 2021.
- WEST PHILIPPINE SEA: In a statement on May 18 renewing his call for the Philippines to enter into a joint oil exploration deal with China in the West Philippine Sea, Sotto said: “The public discourse over the WPS boils down to one thing: While the United Nations ruled in our favor, the ruling cannot be put in force because of the absence of an international body that would enforce it. But we can use this arbitral victory to our advantage.”
- SOCIAL INEQUALITY: “Anti-discrimination on persons, p’wede. [P]ero focused on gays, which the SOGIE bill is, and religious and academic freedom impeded, plus smuggling of same-sex marriage? No chance!” Sotto told reporters on August 21, 2019. (An anti-discrimination bill on persons [in general] might be approved. But if focused on gays, which the SOGIE bill is, and religious and academic freedom impeded, plus smuggling of [provisions on] same-sex marriage? No chance!)