MANILA— Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday said budget reform would be one of the key programs that he and Sen. Panfilo Lacson would push for as they vie for the two highest positions in the country in the 2022 national elections.
Lacson, who is running for president, has a proposal called "budget reform advocacy for village empowerment or BRAVE," Sotto told reporters in an online press conference.
"When we go around, ang feeling nila (public) na-develop 'yung mendicancy… dahil naka lump 'yung budget ng gobyerno sa national government," he said.
(When we go around, the people tell us that they feel that the culture of mendicancy was developed because the budget is lumped in the national government.)
"Every year national government has P300 billion to P400 billion unused [appropriations]… May idea si Sen. Lacson na itong mga unused na ito maaga pa pang, i-program mo na," he said.
"Imagine what P1 billion per province can do when it is all focused on countryside development," he said.
As senator, Lacson has been vigilant in watching over the national budget every cycle, exposing alleged discretionary funds and insertions.
NO SONG AND DANCE NUMBERS
The Senate President said more details of their tandem's main platform would be discussed in small sorties and town hall meetings in the coming months.
Sotto, a long-time comedian and musician, said there would be "no entertainment" in their campaign, contrary to the usual song-and-dance style of wooing voters.
"We have no entertainment. We will focus on issues," he said.
"We’d like to elevate the type of campaigning for 2022, on a different level na. Tigilan na 'yung mga ganun. Hindi maganda resulta (Over with that. The results are not good)," said Sotto.
The tandem and their senatorial slate would be using a "combination of social media and mainstream media" in campaigning while the COVID-19 pandemic persists, Sotto said.
"Mas maganda kung puro issues ang kampanya (It will be better to have an issue-based campaign)... You go around in small town hall meetings. It’s easier to control. You invite the town leaders," he said.
Sotto earlier said the following will be on their senatorial line-up:
- Former senator JV Ejercito
- Former senator and Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero
- Reelectionist Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
- Reelectionist Sen. Dick Gordon
- Former senator Gringo Honasan
- Former election commissioner Goyo Larrazabal
- Former senator and now Rep. Loren Legarda
- Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez
- Reelectionist Sen. Joel Villanueva
- Reelectionist Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri
The team is still finalizing who will occupy the remaining 2 slots, the Senate President said, noting that they are in talks with a "VIP."
"Hindi natin masabi ngayon (We can't give definite answers now). It will probably be clearer by October," he said.
The Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), which Sotto chairs, will have a meeting on July 28 to finalize their alliance with other parties, while the 2 senators will formally announce their 2022 bid on August 4, 2021.