MANILA, Philippines?It?s a go for Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
Without fanfare, Lacson Tuesday unequivocally declared his intention to seek the presidency in 2010. It will be his second try after 2004.
?It?s 101 percent,? he said in an ambush interview before the Senate session started. ?As of now, I?m really determined, decided to run.?
Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police who turns 61 on June 1, said he would run on an anticorruption platform.
He promised to rid the government of crooks and grafters, and to provide ?a level playing field? for all Filipinos.
?My vision is very clear,? Lacson said. ?The No. 1 problem of this country is government. And the solution is likewise government. So we have to correct government if we want to solve the problems of this country.?
With a 1.5-million bureaucracy, ?correcting the system? will benefit the 88.7 million Filipinos, he said.
Lacson is among a number of senators?including Manuel Villar, Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Manuel ?Mar? Roxas II and Richard Gordon?known to be eyeing the presidency in 2010.
He said there were ?other factors to be considered when the proper time comes.?
?But for now?that?s why I?m going around?I?m really determined [to run],? he said.
Lacson said merger talks were ongoing, but ?it?s not clear yet who will slide down [to vice president].?
He said his camp was trying to form a coalition with certain parties.
?Right now, talks are still in the preliminary stage, so I cannot tell you anything concrete,? said Lacson, who became independent when he bolted the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino political party to run for president in 2004.
Lacson said the party formed by boxing champion Manny Pacquiao was a local political party??and by all indications, he will be coalescing with the administration party.?
?I am out-and-out opposition. Since the time I entered politics, I have always been with the opposition,? he declared.
Lessons of history
Lacson said he would go all-out against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her family.
He pointed out, however, that institutions vested with the laws of the land, and not those in power, should go after the Arroyos.
?If a complaint is lodged against her or any member of her family, the law should take its course. But for the next administration to be very much occupied with running after a predecessor, it will have a hard time charting its [own] direction,? Lacson said.
In his reckoning, this happened during the term of President Corazon Aquino regarding the family and cronies of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, and even during the present dispensation regarding former President Joseph Estrada.
?So I think we should learn from the lessons of history,? he said.
In a speech before the Philippine Association of Local Treasurers and Assessors in March, Lacson said he was the constant target of the administration?s vilification campaign.
?But none of these lies or black propaganda will stop me. I will fight corruption without end as I did when I was chief of the Philippine National Police about 10 years ago, whether in the smallest forms of kotong (mulcting), which victimize lowly drivers and vegetable dealers, or in crime syndicates [involved in] illegal drugs and illegal gambling,? he said.
Lacson said fighting corruption was about restoring fair play for all.
?For it is corruption, more than anything else, that distorts the systems enshrined in a democratic order. If those of us who have a stake in the system want it to prevail against alien ideologies, we must make certain that it affords equal opportunity and fair play,? Lacson said.
?Ours is supposed to be a democratic system where protection is promised to all citizens, where justice is for all. But what good is democracy when justice is denied to many [and] twisted for some?? he said, explaining the meaning of his campaign slogan, ?Patas na laban para sa lahat (A level playing field for all).?