Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo asked him to withdraw from the 2022 presidential race and field Senator Tito Sotto to be Robredo’s running-mate and drop Senator Kiko Pangilinan.
Lacson, in a GMA News report said, the offer was made in Pampanga.
“Somebody approached me in Pampanga and the offer, proposal was, Senator, we can make Kiko back out and field Senator Sotto as running mate of Leni as long as you withdraw from the race,” Lacson, quoted in the GMA report said.
In a statement, Lacson identified the one who approached him in Pampanga as former Quezon City mayor Brigido ‘Jun’ Simon.
“He kept asking for an appointment a number of times, purportedly in relation to my campaign. I did not respond as I wasn’t sure what the agenda was, not to mention that I do not know him that well and I was busy campaigning,” he said.
Lacson said these could be the same people who approached other presidential bets Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Senator Manny Pacquiao.
Ibarra Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson, denied that their camp reached out to Lacson and other bets.
“What I can confirm and say with complete clarity is that this [effort to make Lacson and Senator Kiko withdraw] did not come from Leni-Kiko campaign team. There are no recent efforts to talk to him from our end,” Gutierrez said in a CNN Philippines interview.
“This is not coming from us. There are no active efforts to actually try to talk to other candidates and bring them in,” he said.
Lacson meanwhile said the national budget is the most important legislation that lawmakers pass every year because without it, government agencies and other state-funded projects cannot move to deliver essential public services.
Lacson gave this simple explanation when he faced local government officials in Bataan, Sunday (April 10), to discuss his Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) program, which is the bedrock of his 2022 presidential campaign and future administration if he is voted into office.
“The national budget is the most potent weapon. That’s why it is considered as the ‘must-pass’ legislation, right, congressman? Even if you cannot enact other laws in a year, the GAA (General Appropriations Act) must be passed,” he said.
Lacson reiterated that budget-related measures are the “lifeblood of our economy, if not, the country itself.” The veteran statesman said a nation has a serious problem if its citizens regard this issue as irrelevant.
Under his BRAVE policy, local government units (LGU)—from the provincial down to the barangay levels—are provided separate budget allocation for the development or livelihood projects of their respective communities or constituencies, depending on their needs and priorities.