Sotto vouches for Lacson's incorruptibility, says he will 'lead by example'

Published March 21, 2022, 8:01 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Vice presidential candidate Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III vouched for the incorruptibility of his May 2022 poll partner, Partido Reporma standard-bearer Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

Sotto said Lacson’s leadership style would be enough to eliminate the culture of corruption in government.

In his appearance at the first round of the “PiliPinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point” Sunday night, March 20, Sotto echoed the “internal cleansing” plan of Lacson once he is elected as the 17th president to effect sweeping and much-needed organizational reforms like he did when he led the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Sotto gave this answer to a question on whether having a single anti-corruption agency would be more effective in addressing persistent issues of graft in the country similar to the approach of governments in Singapore and Hong Kong.

“A singular body to address corruption? The government is too large for a single body. What we need is internal cleansing. We must lead by example. Perfect example ni (of) Senator Ping Lacson when he was head of the Philippine National Police,” he said.

Sotto mentioned the strict “no take” policy that Lacson applied during his reign as PNP chief. It eradicated the “kotong” (extortion) culture, which was the quintessential form and street-style level of corruption in the law enforcement sector that was pervasive at the time.

“Nawala ang kotong (Extortion disappeared). Anong (What was the) technique? Internal cleansing and lead by example. Kahit anong offer ng kahit ano, pati reward, hindi tinatanggap (Whatever offer was made, including rewards, he declined). When you lead by example, everybody else follows,” he stressed.

Sotto also brought up their proposal to streamline and digitalize all government transactions to reduce human intervention, especially at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), which he and Lacson believe is the most corrupt agency in the country.

The vice presidential candidate likewise mentioned that preventing corruption is at the core of their flagship Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) program that enables wider participation of smaller communities in the national budget process to stimulate their growth.

Sotto explained that under their BRAVE policy, the potential for graft through the pork barrel system of most lawmakers would be reduced because the local government units (LGUs) would have more influence over state-funded projects that are aligned with the needs and priorities of their constituents.

The Senate chief further noted that he and Lacson enacted laws that were meant to curb corruption such as the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, which the latter authored and sponsored, but has since been amended and became the Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018.

Sotto, however, lamented that most of the laws they worked on throughout their careers as senators were not being implemented correctly. This is the primary reason behind their decision to seek the top two highest leadership positions and move to the executive branch.

“Alam po namin ang mga problema ng bansa… Alam din po namin ang solusyon. Twenty-four years po akong senador. I am tired of making laws that are not implemented properly, kaya po kami naririto humaharap (We know the problems of our country… We also know the solutions. I have been a senator for 24 years. I am tired of making laws that are not implemented properly, that’s why I am here in front of you),’’ the vice presidential candidate said addressing Filipino voters in his closing statement.

If elected as vice president, Sotto vowed to serve with competence backed by his 30 years of experience in public service.

He appealed to voters to trust him again–with an executive mandate this time around–to help restore their trust in government.

“Hindi po ako mangangapa. Ang karanasan ko po na 30 taon sa public service ay sapat na… Dati niyo na akong binoboto [at] pinagtitiwalaan. Ibalik ang tiwala sa gobyerno. Pagtiwalaan niyo po ako. Hindi kayo mapapahiya (I will not do things blindly. My 30 years of experience in public service are enough… You’ve been voting for and trusting me before. Let us restore our trust in the government. Trust me once again. I will not let you down),’’ he added.