MANILA - Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday both denied enabling the Duterte administration, as they maintain that they are only "pro-Filipino."
Lacson and Sotto are running for president and vice president respectively in next year's election. They have presented themselves as alternative candidates, but were criticized over their affiliation with President Rodrigo Duterte and his policies.
"No, we're not pro-administration, we're not pro-opposition. We are pro-Filipino, that's first and foremost. It doesn’t mean that I’m friendly with the President or that we usually follow the administration line on some pieces of legislation, doesn’t mean na kami ay (that we are) an enabler," Sotto told ANC's Headstart when asked for a reaction on the "Duterte enabler" tag.
Sotto said they take this accusation "with a grain of salt" because "as long as it’s not true, I don’t see any problem."
When asked about it, Lacson also said they are "absolutely not" enablers. He said he has called out the administration a number of times and he has also praised Duterte "when there’s need to praise him."
"If you call that an enabler, then so be it," he said.
"I’ve always followed a personal credo: what is right must be kept right; what is wrong must be set right. Pag sinabi mong dun ka lang sa tama at nagkataon namang tama yung tao, ba’t hindi mo purihin? Kung mali naman, you call him out or you criticize him, hoping that he will listen," he said.
(I’ve always followed a personal credo: what is right must be kept right; what is wrong must be set right. When you say you side with the right and it so happens that the person is right, why won't you praise him? If he's wrong, you call him out or you criticize him, hoping that he will listen.)
Only Lacson and Sotto have so far confirmed their candidacies for the 2022 elections. They said they see no problem in announcing their plans this early despite the possibility of facing heat from potential competition.
"We’re ready for anything…Napag-usapan na namin na wala nang pagkukunwari (We discussed that we won't pretend). Anyway, we have decided finally that we’ll go for it. Let’s do this," Lacson said.
Sotto added: "We have nothing to hide. We’re probably 2 political animals—if you could call us that—that have nothing to hide. Bilad na bilad kami sa buong bansa, kilalang kilala kami (We're exposed to the whole country, very well-known). They can throw even the kitchen sink and it wouldn’t matter because our records speak for itself."
Their tandem is also completing their senatorial lineup, which so far includes former Vice President Jejomar Binay, Leyte Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez, and former Commission on Elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal among others.