There's no going back for Senators Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Vicente Sotto III as they launched on Wednesday, September 8, their tandem for the 2022 national and local elections.
Donning green and red plaid polos, Lacson and Sotto made formal their bid for presidency and vice presidency, respectively, with a promise to lead the Philippine to recovery, to restore trust in the government, and put an end to "wrongs" they say that have long prevailed in the country.
As if giving a preview of the campaigns at a time of pandemic, their launch was aired in several broadcast networks and online channels, and attended by few family members, friends and audience who were tested for the coronavirus before the event. Others showed their support for the tandem via teleconference and taped testimonies.
The launch was initially scheduled for August, but was postponed in light of the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, and the reimposition of strict lockdowns in Metro Manila.
"Kailangan na nating umaksyon. Kailangan na natin magsanib pwersa upang mapigilan at maitama ang mali. Ito na ang simula (We need to act. We need to work together to prevent and correct mistakes. This is the beginning)," said Sotto, who was first to be introduced by television host Pia Guanio, a colleague of the Senate President when he was co-hosting the noon-time show "Eat Bulaga".
Lacson, meanwhile, started his speech by recalling President Duterte's admission in his last State of the Nation Address that leading the country was not as simple as leading Davao City.
"Hindi natin dapat payagan ang maling akala para sa kinabukasan ng ating bansa (We cannot allow wrong assumptions to affect our nation’s future)," he said.
He also stressed the need for leaders who can lead by example.
"Ang tamang pamumuno ay dapat pangunahan ng (Right leaders should show) 'leadership by example' — hindi sa salita kundi sa gawa (not by words, but actions). No leader can succeed if he cannot practice what he preaches," the former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief said.
"Kailangan natin ng lider na ang tama ay ipaglalaban at ang mali ay lalabanan. Kaya naman magiging una sa ating prayoridad ang mas maigting na pagtugon sa pandemya. Marapat lamang na punan ang mga kakulangan at ituwid ang mga kamalian (We need a leader who will fight for what is right and will fight what is wrong. That's why the first of our priorities is a stronger response to the pandemic. We have to fill the gaps and correct the wrongdoings)," Lacson said.
The two sought to address the current problems faced by the country, such as the increasing coronavirus infections and its recessionary impacts, unemployment, as well as corruption, misuse of public funds, prevailing illegal drug trade, and the "gradual loss" of the country's territory in the West Philippine Sea.
"Hindi biro-biro ang mga pagsubok na haharapin ng susunod na administrasyon (Truly, the challenges that the next administration will face are no joking matter)," Lacson admitted.
'80 years' of experience
In announcing their election bid, Lacson touted that he and Sotto have a combined experience in public service of "more than 80 years".
They maintained they have the "Kakayahan, Katapatan, at Katapangan (Competence, Integrity, and Courage)" to take on the role of the country's highest posts.
Lacson, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, started as a member of the Philippine Constabulary in 1971 and then joined the Philippine National Police, which he eventually led from 1999 to 2001.
Sotto, meanwhile, was an actor and musician before entering public service in 1988 as vice mayor of Quezon City. He also served as chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board under the Arroyo administration.
Backing Lacson and Sotto was former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who claimed that the two are leader the Philippines needs.
Alvarez was known as one of President Duterte's staunchest ally, before their falling out in 2018. He is now a partymate of Lacson in the Partido Reporma.
Sotto, on the other hand, heads the Nationalist Peoples' Coalition (NPC).
But a current member of the Duterte Cabinet also voiced his support for his former colleagues in the Senate, despite the President confirming his plan to run for vice president next year.
"Napakasikat ni TitoSen pero napakatao, napakatotoo," Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan said of Sotto, further citing the latter's "prowess in politics, in sports and in life".
Lacson and Sotto are the first to announce their candidacies for the 2022 elections. Filings would start on October 1, but explicit campaigning for national positions won't be allowed until February 8, 2022.
Campaign period starts 90 days before the elections.