Lacson-Sotto tandem not pro-administration, not opposition: ‘We are the alternative’
MANILA, Philippines — He will be the “consensus builder” to Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s “street fighter,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Wednesday, as the two senators became the first pair to confirm running as a presidential ticket in the 2022 elections.
“We are the alternative. We are not pro-administration; we are not opposition,” the Senate leader said in a dzMM radio interview.
But he added that the official declaration of the Lacson-Sotto presidential bid would have to wait until next month to firm up the duo’s coalition or collaboration with political parties, such as Sotto’s Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Partido Reporma, and Aksyon Demokratiko, among other groups.
“Senator Lacson and I have decided, yes, [we will run], but we’re planning the official launching to be on Aug. 4,” he said.
Tandem to remain neutral
According to Sotto, neither he nor Lacson was particularly concerned about sentiments that forces opposed to the Duterte administration should band together.
“We are neutral, because NPC is in alliance with the President [but] we are not in alliance with PDP-Laban (Partido Demoktratiko Pilipino — Lakas ng Bayan) or any other political party,” he said.
Lacson, a former national police chief who later became the Senate’s resident pork-barrel hunter, is an independent, while Sotto, a veteran lawmaker who rose to prominence as an entertainer before joining politics, chairs the NPC.
“At the moment, we are not thinking of that because if we did, we would have to wait to know who else are running. For us, it’s simple: We know the country’s problems from the pandemic to corruption … all of it. When it comes to solutions, we have seen them in the Senate,” Sotto said.
The Senate leader said he was prompted to run by, “though it may sound corny to others—love of country.”
Passing grade for Duterte
“Our question is where is the Philippines headed? Are there programs we can push to, as they say, put the country back on track?” Sotto said.
As for President Duterte’s performance, the senator said he would give him a passing grade overall.
“When it comes to overall performance, perhaps, if we take into account everything he has done, including the primary concerns as far as illegal drugs, I will give him a 7.5,” Sotto said.
He added that he could not rate Duterte on his anti-corruption drive.
“I know he is angry at corruption but there are issues of corruption that are coming up but are not being acted upon. So, it’s hard to grade him on that. Perhaps he’s doing something we don’t know about. It’s hard to be judgmental,” Sotto said.
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