BATTLE-READY. Senator Panfilo Lacson delivers his speech during the Partido Reporma's proclamation rally at the Imus Grandstand in Cavite on Tuesday (Feb. 8, 2022). Lacson urged voters to elect those who have integrity and will work hard to uplift the country, as he vowed to fulfill his promises through stern discipline and leadership by example if he wins as president in the May 9 national elections. (Photo courtesy of Lacson-Sotto Media Bureau)

MANILA – Partido Reporma standard-bearer Senator Panfilo Lacson rallied voters to elect those who have integrity and will work hard to uplift the country.

"Di ba dapat piliin nating mabuti? Pagdating ng May 9, hindi namin pinagpipilitan 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 (Shouldn’t we pick our candidates well? Come May 9, we are not forcing ourselves on you, but please choose well. Otherwise, we will be the ones suffering. For six years, we will be sorry for making the wrong choice)," Lacson said in his speech during the party's proclamation rally at the Imus Grandstand in Cavite on Tuesday night.

He said he and his running mate, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, have never accepted any bribe in exchange for anything.

Should they win in the May 9 elections, Lacson said, they would use their six-year term to provide good public service.

He added that their long experience in public service makes them qualified for the two highest elective posts in the land.

Sotto served in various capacities in the executive and legislative branches while Lacson served as a former Philippine National Police chief before entering politics.

The Lacson-Sotto tandem's candidacy is anchored on the principle of restoring public trust in the government through their battle cries “Aayusin ang Gobyerno, Aayusin ang Buhay ng Bawat Pilipino” (Fix the Government, Fix the Lives of Every Filipino) and “Uubusin ang Magnanakaw” (Get Rid of the Thieves).

Lacson also made a commitment to his fellow Caviteños to fulfill his promises through a combination of stern discipline and leadership by example.

"Ako po ay humaharap sa inyo bilang isang kababayan, lehitimong taga-Imus, lehitimong taga-Cavite. Kapag ako pinagpala na maglingkod, hinding hindi ko kayo ipapahiya. Hinding hindi ko kayo bibiguin (I face you as a full-blooded son of Imus, Cavite. If I get to be voted, I will not embarrass you. I will not fail you)!" he added.

Joining the proclamation rally were some of their senatorial candidates – former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Guillermo Eleazar, health advocate Dr. Minguita Padilla, former Makati congressman Monsour del Rosario, and guest senatorial bets former agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol and former senator JV Ejercito.

'Bossing' endorses tandem

During the Lacson-Sotto proclamation rally, no less than television actor Vic Sotto, popularly known as “Bossing”, made an appearance and wholeheartedly endorsed the duo as the country's next chief public servant.

Vic said he admires Lacson for his integrity, courage, and solid track record in public service for the past 50 years.

"Siyempre ang iboboto natin, walang iba kundi ang aking hinahangaang senador, si Senator Ping Lacson. (Of course, we will vote for no other than the senator I admire – Senator Ping Lacson)," he said.

"Ako ay hanga sa katapatan nitong taong ito – katapatan sa pagbibigay ng serbisyong publiko. Nakita natin yan sa record niya. At pagdating sa katapangan, di mo matatawaran. Kabitenyo, eh. Katapangan para labanan ang mga tiwali sa gobyerno, para labanan ang korapsyon sa gobyerno (I admire Lacson's integrity in public service, as shown by his track record. And no one can question his Caviteño courage to fight wrongdoings, such as crime and corruption)."

Lacson has repeatedly stressed that being the occupant of Malacañang means public service, pointing out that "the people may not be our masters, but definitely we are your servants."

Vic also vouched for his brother, Senate President Sotto.

"Siya ang makakatulong ng ating Pangulong Ping para ayusin ang gobyerno, ayusin ang buhay nating lahat (Senate President Sotto will help our President Ping in fixing the ills of government and fixing the lives of us Filipinos)," he said.

After his speech, Vic raised the hands of the Lacson-Sotto tandem.

Meanwhile, other "Dabarkads" also graced the rally – comedians Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola, as well as Vic's son-in-law, former professional basketball player Marc Pingris.

Supporters who attended the event observed health protocols and physical distancing, in line with Lacson's policy of a disciplined campaign.

'Lucky numbers'

Lacson is number five on the list of candidates for president while Sotto is ninth among the vice presidential aspirants on the ballot for the May 9 polls.

“Five-nine – May 9. Ang May 9 po sa numero, 5/9 – 5/9/2022. Number 5 po siya (Lacson), number 9 ako, kaya 5/9 – May 9. ‘Yan po ang matindi sa lahat (5-9 on May 9. Lacson is number five, I am number nine, so 5/9 on May 9 or 5/0/2022. That’s pretty cool),” Tito Sotto said.

Siguro ito na ang pagkakataon namin ni Ping Lacson. Kasi, ang sinasabi nila, ‘yun daw pinakamadilim ay bago mag-bukang liwayway. So, malaki ang aming pag-asa, kasi may tiwala ako sa kanya, may tiwala ako sa mga nakapaligid sa amin. Mahalaga po ‘yon (I believe this is our time. Because as they say, it’s always darkest before dawn. So, we have high hopes because I trust him, I trust the people around us. That is important)."

Since the introduction of automated elections in the Philippines in 2010, the lists of candidates are arranged alphabetically by their surnames as soon as the Comelec finalizes and certifies those who are qualified to participate in the general election.

Peace and order issues

Meanwhile, Eleazar said he would focus on security and peace and order issues should he win in the May 9 elections.

"Nakita natin yung complexity and bigger picture kaya nga po siguro ito ang nagtulak sa akin upang humarap sa inyo at humingi ng inyong tiwala at suporta (We saw the complexity and the bigger picture and this is what prompted me to face you and seek your support)," he said.

Eleazar, who retired from the service last year, has espoused an “internal cleanliness policy” in the PNP, aiming to enforce strict discipline among personnel. (PNA)