'Too late' for unity talks with opposition – Sotto

Published October 14, 2021, 5:01 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Even Senate President Vicente Sotto III does not think that the opposition will be able to unify candidates against administration bets for the 2022 elections.

Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson (right) and Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III (left). The two have confirmed their plans to run in tandem for president and vice president, respectively, in the 2022 elections. (Office of Senate President Sotto)

Sotto was asked about the opposition’s unification effort after his running mate, Senator Panfilo Lacson, on Thursday, Oct. 14, disclosed that the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo attempted to field Robredo and Sotto as their candidates for president and vice president, respectively.

During an online forum, Lacson said it was during their second meeting with Robredo and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon. Drilon, he said, made a gesture implying that aspiring candidates support the Robredo and Sotto’s tandem.

He was “insulted” by the proposition, Lacson said. He doubted that the opposition was sincere in unifying election candidates.

Drilon, on the other hand, was reported as denying making the supposed gesture or his colleagues’ interpretation of it.

“Too late for us for any unity talks even at that time. We were already organized and set up nationwide,” Sotto said in a message to Senate reporters.

Instead, Sotto said he and Lacson are now inclined to coalesce with other political groups that are not associated with the opposition.

“We are now forming a cooperative alliance between NUP (National Unity Party), NPC (Nationalist People’s Coalition), [Partido] Reporma and UNA (United Nationalists’ Alliance),” the Senate President said.

Lacson, who chairs the Partido Reporma, also confirmed the talks with other political parties, particularly on the possible alliance with the NUP, which is among those known for supporting the Duterte administration.

“As regards the NPC and even the NUP…we are able to convince them, at least, we are having that avenue or opportunity to present to them kung ano ‘yong mga plano ko na pwedeng mag-align (my plans that can align with their principles),” he said.

Previously, Sotto said the agreement with the NUP was supposed to call for “clean and honest” 2022 elections.