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Lacson-Sotto Tandem To Endorse 14 Senate Bets

Lacson-Sotto Tandem To Endorse 14 Senate Bets
Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III

UPDATE: The tandem of Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III has 14 senatorial candidates for the May 2022 general elections.

Lacson said the slate is led by four reelectionists – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva and Richard Gordon – and three former senators making a comeback – JV Ejercito, Sorsogon Gov. Francis Escudero and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda.

Also included are Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gringo Honasan, former Makati representative Monsour del Rosario, Dr. Minguita Padilla, former agrarian secretary Manny Piñol and media practitioner Paolo Capino.

Lacson did not name the 13th and 14th candidates, but he said the group also has a surprise bet. On Friday, Oct. 15, his camp said the other two are former vice president Jejomar Binay and former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista.

“The initial plan is to adopt all 14 and we will campaign for them. They’re the ones qualified to be elected as senators,” he explained during the Pandesal Forum hosted by columnist Wilson Lee Flores, noting that he doesn’t see anything wrong in pushing 14 candidates because “at the end of the day, the electorate will decide who to vote” to office.

WPS issue

On the issue of the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Lacson said he intends to seek the assistance of bigger countries with military capability to help patrol the area and to show that the Philippines is not a pushover should he win as president in the 2022 elections with Sotto as his vice president.

“One approach is to maintain the balance of power. So we need the help of other countries that are militarily strong and with a military capability that can match the one that is seizing this balance of power,” Lacson said in Filipino during the online forum.

“That weapon is not yet tapped, especially our mutual defense treaty with the United States. We have bilateral agreements with Australia. These countries are willing to help. In fact even the European countries expressed that they want to help us. I was talking to the Australian ambassador and even the Canadian ambassador, they are willing to patrol in the WPS,” he added.

He noted that a Canadian Navy vessel made a call on the country’s port and “I asked them maybe they can pass by in a part of the West Philippine Sea and they said yes, that that was really the intention to show that we are not a pushover.”

Early this week, the Royal Canadian Navy on board Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg conducted a goodwill visit to the Philippines to demonstrate the friendly relations between the two countries and show Canada’s commitment to its vibrant partnerships in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the broader Indo-Pacific region. The Winnipeg last visited the country in 2017.

No more lockdowns

Lacson also intends to do away with COVID-related lockdowns, saying this was not proven to be effective in addressing the pandemic and only aggravated the problem with the country’s economy.

He said the Philippines imposed the longest lockdowns in the world and its vaccination program was lagging behind other countries.

“We are punishing the economy, our efforts to cure COVID are no longer working,” he added.

He also wanted to speed up the rollout of the national ID to address issues, such as the distribution of ayuda or financial assistance to those hard-hit by the pandemic.

Earlier, Lacson mentioned in another interview that all policies related to COVID-19 must be based on science and technology and driven by data, and should not be a trial-and-error approach.

He said they are considering alternatives such as the more efficient rollout of vaccines, capacitating of government hospitals, and the judicious use of public funds - including the possible use of off-budget “income” of government hospitals to defray the hospitalization expenses of Filipinos confined there.

Lacson cited Nikkei Asia's COVID-19 Recovery Index listing the Philippines as last in infection control, vaccination and mobility, ranking it dead last among 121 countries.

“COVID is here to stay, we don’t know when it will end,” he said.

Making matters worse are other factors such as corruption in procuring supplies to address the pandemic, along with inefficiency and incompetence.

He said the next leadership will have to deal not just with the pandemic but with the post-pandemic problems.