Proposed Robredo-Sotto tandem ‘insults’ Lacson

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    SEN. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson yesterday said he “felt insulted” after Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon allegedly proposed a tandem between Vice President Leni Robredo and Senate President Vicente Sotto III for the 2022 national elections.

    Lacson made the disclosure during the online “Pandesal Forum” where he also said that the unification talks supposedly initiated by Robredo’s camp was only a “scheme.”

    Lacson said he and Sotto met with Robredo and Drilon last October 2 for a possible unification of opposition groups to ensure victory against administration candidates in next year’s elections.

    Lacson and Sotto are running together as presidential and vice presidential candidates, while Robredo has paired up with Sen. Francis Pangilinan as her running mate.

    Lacson said that after the meeting, he was informed by Sotto that Drilon had made a hand gesture suggesting that a tandem between the Vice President and the Senate President be formed instead, therefore getting him out of the picture.

    “Sabi niya (Sotto) ‘hindi mo napansin na ‘yung dalawang daliri ni Frank nakaturo sa aming dalawa?’ Parang effectively, telling me in my face to withdraw and mag-create ng bagong tandem between the Vice President and SP. So, sa akin, you know, when I was told that, I felt insulted (Sotto asked me, ‘Did you notice that Frank’s two fingers were pointing to us [Sotto and Robredo]? In effect, [that was] telling me in my face to withdraw and just create a new tandem between the Vice President and SP. For me, you know, when I was told that, I felt insulted),” Lacson said.

    Drilon, in a message to the media, said the meeting was part of Robredo’s effort to unite the opposition “but I do not recall those hand gestures attributed to me, much less the interpretation to it.”

    Lacson said that had he noticed Drilon’s hand gesture, he would have walked out of the meeting right away.

    “I would have stood up and left that meeting because for me, it was too insulting, to say the least. In my face, he (Drilon) was telling me to withdraw,” he added, as he stressed: “It is only me who can decide if I will withdraw (my candidacy). No other person can do that for me because this is what I have already decided on.”

    Lacson recalled that he had earlier told Drilon that he and Sotto have reached “the point of no return” because there are a lot of stakeholders who have “contributed their efforts” on them.

    “At this point in time, I don’t think we can still entertain the thought of withdrawing in favor of someone else,” he said.

    Lacson and Sotto first met with Robreo last July when Lacson suggested a “sure unification formula” where opposition candidates will file their respective COCs for president and then withdraw in favor of the one who will lead in the surveys.

    Lacson’s proposed formula was turned down by Robredo.

    “Unfortunately or fortunately, it was rejected outright and it was during the second meeting on October 2 when I confirmed that the unification efforts is only to unify under them, nothing more,” Lacson said.

    SUBSTITUTION CLAUSE

    Deputy speaker Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City has filed two bills banning candidate substitution and declaring an incumbent elective official as automatically resigned upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy (COC) for another position.

    “These twin measures aim to put an end to practices by politicians and political parties that tend to put in doubt the integrity of our elections,” said the lawmaker who filed the two bills on Wednesday.

    The administration has yet to field its standard-bearer after presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte filed her COC for reelection and declined calls for her to run for president.

    Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa’s last-minute filing of candidacy for president last Friday continued to fuel speculations that Duterte-Carpio will end up as the standard bearer of the ruling PDP-Laban Cusi faction through substitution.

    A certain Anna Capella Velasco and Lyle Fernando Uy have also filed their COCs for president and vice president under Lakas-CMD which may field Duterte-Carpio or just adopt former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos as its presidential candidate.

    Under Rodriguez’s House Bill No. 10380, a political party would be prohibited from substituting any candidate unless the latter dies or is disqualified.

    Under Article IX, Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code, “if after the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and certified by, the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified.”

    However, Rodriguez said that while there is nothing wrong with substitution in case of death or disqualification, “substitution because of withdrawal, or what others call voluntary substitution, may pose serious questions and may lead to the manipulation and mockery of

    the election process.”
    “Withdrawals could lead the voting public to believe that the candidate who withdrew, or even the political party or substituting candidate, is not really serious,” he said.

    He pointed out that the election law empowers the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify an aspirant who filed his COC to put the election process in mockery or disrepute by declaring him or her as a nuisance candidate.

    The lawmaker also filed HB No. 10381 which seeks to restore the old provision in the election law that declared an incumbent as resigned ipso facto (by that very fact or act) upon filing his COC for another position, repealing the Fair Elections Act of 2001 (Republic Act No. 9006) which scrapped the resignation declaration.

    “This would force aspirants to take running for higher office seriously and to stop manipulating and mocking the electoral process. It would also make more people believe in the integrity of our elections,” he said.

    The ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) rejected notions that political parties are making a mockery of the electoral process by availing of the substitution clause in the election laws, while presidential spokesman Harry Roque said there is no abuse being committed since changing candidates through substitution is allowed under law.

    PDP-Laban secretary General Melvin Matibag said apart from the existing law, a Comelec resolution also allows for substitution up to November 15 which is a process that is respected and recognized by all.

    “It’s not a mockery of the elections law if the political parties use every available legal option, or time, for them to finally decide the candidates to field,” he said.

    Matibag said there is also nothing wrong if the party decides to have a substitute for Dela Rosa on or before the deadline. – With Wendell Vigilia and Jocelyn Montemayor

    “Any political party can opt to utilize the rule on substitution as it is allowed by law. It is available to everyone without distinction. A mockery is when rules are not applied equally.

    And every party is entitled to employ its own political strategies,” he said.

    He added this is similar to the decision of “the Liberal Party Chairperson choosing to run as an independent candidate and changing her color from yellow to pink”.

    Roque said there is no abuse committed in using the substitution clause since it is provided by law and there are no substitute candidates yet.

    ‘IPAGLABAN MO’

    Lawyer Joseph Peter “Jopet” Sison, who is the host of the television legal drama series “Kapag nasa Katwiran, Ipaglaban Mo” will replace former vice president Noli De Castro in the senatorial slate of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno’s Aksyon Demokratiko, party chairman Ernest Ramel Jr. said yesterday.

    Sison, who joined Aksyon only on October 1, will join Moreno and his running mate Willie Ong during their visit to Lipa City, Batangas today.

    “The 56-year-old Sison has joined Aksyon Demokratiko and will be running as a senator.

    Like De Castro, Sison worked for ABS-CBN as assistant executive producer of the TV legal drama series entitled ‘Kapag nasa Katwiran… Ipaglaban Mo’,” the party said in a statement.

    Sison also served as Quezon City councilor for six years, assistant general manager of the National Housing Authority from 2002 to 2005 and president of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation from 2006 to 2012.

    Sison was also formerly the Quezon City chairman of the Liberal Party.

    De Castro withdrew from the Senate race on Wednesday due to “personal reasons.”