Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson (Photo courtesy of Lacson Sotto Media Bureau)

MANILA – Independent presidential candidate Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson on Thursday urged all Filipino voters to junk the "survey mentality" in voting and instead pick candidates whom they think are most competent and qualified to lead the nation.

He made this call after noting that the biggest waste of votes is not in voting for someone who is competent and qualified but is lagging in surveys, but in picking a "winnable" but less qualified candidate.

Lacson cited information reaching him indicating recent surveys showing that while he had only 2 percent "hard votes," he had an average of 40 percent "soft votes" where he is being considered by many voters who are hesitating to vote for him because he was not leading in the surveys.

The "soft votes" according to the latest Laylo survey showed that Lacson and his Vice Presidential bet Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III have up to 57 percent in Class E or the "masa" class; 45 percent in urban areas and 42 percent in rural areas; 43 percent among both male and female voters; 43 percent among those aged 18-34, 42 percent among those aged 35-54, and 45 percent among those aged 55 and up.

"Based sa feedback na nakukuha namin sa Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, ganoon ang sinasabi. Gusto namin ang Lacson-Sotto tandem. Sila ang competent, qualified at may kakayahan. Gusto namin sana sila iboto (Based on the feedback I get from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, many voters wanted to vote for the Lacson-Sotto tandem because they believe we are competent and qualified)," Lacson said after a courtesy call on Mayor Isabelle "Beng" Climaco-Salazar in Zamboanga City last Wednesday.

He said Filipinos should learn to decide for themselves instead of succumbing to survey results or bandwagon mentality.

"Kung pipili tayo, dapat karapat-dapat. Hindi ang palagay ng marami ay mananalo. After all, lalong sayang ang boto ninyo kung ang pipiliin nyo ang alam ninyong hindi karapat-dapat dahil alam nyo lang yan ang mananalo. Hindi ba mas sayang ang botong ganoon (We should base our choices on who is the most competent and qualified, instead of who is believed to be the most winnable. After all, isn't it more a waste of votes if you vote for someone leading in the surveys but lacks competence)?" he added.

For his part, senatorial bet Manny Piñol chided some voters for thinking that they would waste their votes on someone who is qualified but not leading in the surveys.

"Lalong masasayang ang kinabukasan ng ating bansa kung di tamang leader ang ating iboto. Huwag tayo makipagsabayan sa makulay at maingay na rally (It will be a bigger waste for our future if we vote for the wrong leaders. Let's not vote merely based on appearances or rallies)," he said.

As this developed, Lacson said big rallies and gatherings of some candidates may not necessarily be a show of support as it could be the work of operators out to make a profit during the campaign season. He made this disclosure after one of his local support group leaders in Rizal was approached by one such "hakot" operator.

"Baka gusto ni Sen. Lacson at Sen. Sotto na magkaroon ng maraming tao sa rally, meron kaming mga tao at PHP500 per person (Sen. Lacson and Sen. Sotto may want to have many people at their rally. We have many participants at P500 per person)," Lacson quoted his organizer as narrating what the operator said.

This may be a case of the same people attending the rallies of different candidates, he noted.

Citing information reaching him, Lacson said one of his supporters in Rizal was approached by an organizer to pay for rallies where they are to shell out PHP500 for each participant. But he said his local leader told the organizer they were not interested because Lacson and Sotto are more interested in holding dialogues and town hall meetings.

"That’s the reality on the ground and most candidates know that. We cannot blame the people because coming from the pandemic ang hirap ng buhay (We cannot blame the people because they have to earn as they are coming from the pandemic)," he said, adding this is part of the "vicious cycle of vengeance" in the culture of politics in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Lacson reiterated he and Sotto will continue to hold town hall meetings and dialogues so they would learn from people and vice versa.

"Whatever happens, ang aming consolation sa buhay namin, we contributed something to correcting the culture of politics sa ating bansa… issue-based, hindi politics of entertainment or politics of hakot (Whatever happens our consolation would be that we contributed to correcting the culture of politics to make it issue-based and not politics of entertainment or hakot)," he said. (PNA)