MANILA—Partido Reporma presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson on Tuesday urged voters to think carefully and only choose worthy leaders not out to steal state funds from the public after the 2022 elections.
“Ang magnanakaw sa gobyerno wala pong pinipili ’yan. Walang pinipiling nanakawin. Ang ninakaw noon ang kinabukasan ng ating mga kabataan. Ang ating karapatan para makatikim ng magandang edukasyon. Ang ating karapatan para sa maayos na kalusugan. Ang ating karapatan sa livelihood, sa infrastructure. Walang pinipili," Lacson said during his campaign’s kickoff in his birthplace of Imus City, Cavite.
"Ang problema, tayo pa ang namimili sa mga magnanakaw sa atin. Bakit? Binoboto natin sila. Nakapagtataka, bakit binoboto natin ang mismong magnanakaw sa atin?
“’Di ba dapat piliin nating mabuti? Pagdating ng May 9, hindi namin pinagpilitan ang aming sarili pero piliin natin. Kasi ang magsa-suffer, tayo. Anim na taon singkad pagsisisihan natin ang ating ginawa pag nagkamali tayo ng iboboto."
Lacson and his vice presidential running mate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, took pride in their combined 80 years of public service, making a pitch for their competence and experience to address the country’s pressing problems.
Lacson said it was not yet too late to choose the right leaders.
“Bakit tayo nagkaganito? Magising na po tayo sa katotohanan. Isang araw lang tayo magiging hari. Isang araw lang tayong mamimili ng mamumuno sa atin. 'Pag tayo public servant, 'pag ikaw pangulo, pangalawang pangulo, senador, you know, the people may not be our masters. But definitely, we are your servants,” he said.
Comedian and TV host Vic Sotto, the Senate President's brother was the night’s surprise guest, endorsing the Lacson-Sotto tandem.
Sen. Sotto's daughter, Ciara, led the signing of “Magkaisa,” a song originally composed by the Senate President.
Eleven of the tandem’s Senate slate delivered messages either via taped video, proxy, or in-person.
Partido Reporma’s senatorial candidates Guillermo Eleazar, Monsour del Rosario, Minguita Padilla, former senator JV Ejercito, and former Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol were present physically.
Giving VTR messages were guest candidates Antique Rep. Loren Legarda, Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero, and Sen. Richard Gordon.
Audrey Zubiri delivered a message on behalf of her husband, Sen. Miguel Zubiri, while Valenzuela District 1 Rep. Wes Gatchalian represented his brother, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian. Alya Honasan also spoke for her brother Gringo Honasan, a former senator.
Speaking to reporters, Lacson and Sotto explained that common or guest candidates were allowed to attend other proclamation rallies as long as they do not endorse their rivals.
“Basta sa panuntunan namin hangga’t hindi sila nag-e-endorse ng ibang kandidato pagka-pangulo at pagka-pangalawang pangulo, that’s fine with us. Maski hindi rin kami e-endorse. Ang sa amin naman gusto namin sila manalo,” Lacson said.
“Pero ibang usapan kapag kami’y tinatakwil na, e hindi naman kami papayag din nang ganoon. Maski nga tatlo lang ’yung matira sa aming senatorial candidates, basta’t alam naming kami ’yung dinadala o kung hindi man kami dinadala, hindi nagdadala ng iba, OK sa amin ’yon."
Sotto said Zubiri, Gatchalian and Sen. Joel Villanueva asked for their permission to appear in another rally. Asked if former Vice President Jejomar Binay is still included in the tandem’s slate, Sotto answered in the affirmative.
Before attending the proclamation rally, Lacson and Sotto were at Imus Cathedral to attend a mass led by Imus Bishop Rey Evangelista.
Sen. Sotto, meanwhile, repeated President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that the latter will not endorse anyone, claiming the Chief Executive had told him this and Lacson in the presence of Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go.
"The endorsement of President Duterte is gold. But since he decided not to endorse anyone . . . Feeling ko hinahayaan niya ang taumbayan na mag-desisyon," the Senate President said.
Sotto did not provide additional details when Duterte told him so. Lacson said it was the President's prerogative whether he wants to make an endorsement or not.
Duterte on Monday clarified that despite not supporting anyone, he believes all the candidates are qualified.
"They are all qualified, kung sino man sila (whoever they are). Those running now are qualified to be president," he said.