The tandem of Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III will address health and the economy, the country’s biggest problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic, if they win next year’s national elections.
A two-pronged strategy focused on health and the economy, Lacson said Tuesday, will highlight the response of their tandem to the pandemic and its lingering effects.
Lacson, who is running for President under the banner of Partido Reporma, said this as he stressed vaccination will be the first step to all these.
However, he admitted that efforts to reopen the economy cannot take place without achieving herd immunity first.
The senator acknowledged that vaccination is the Number 1 solution “since we saw the countries with high vaccination rates had opened up their economies. So that is what we need to focus on,” he said in an interview on DZRH radio.
“Our authorities may have taken many missteps at first, but hopefully there is still time to correct the situation,” he added.
Despite being a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), Lacson will not appoint retired police and military generals in his Cabinet if he wins the presidency, he added.
Lacson stressed that his number one basis for appointing individuals for particular positions is their competence, integrity, and courage.
These are also the very same qualities that he expects of himself and his running mate Sotto, who is running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition where he sits as President.
Presently, Lacson said he and Sotto are consulting health experts to find alternatives to lockdowns that have crippled the economy but failed to stop or even slow down the spread of COVID.
They are also studying ways to reopen the economy, including improving the country’s competitiveness and offering incentives to attract foreign investors.
He said they have to factor in the high cost of power and labor here while implementing the digitalization of the economy and the interoperability of agencies in the bureaucracy.
“We are consulting with economists and experts in various fields,” Lacson said.
“We have been left behind. Other countries have digitized their economies where their national and local government units have interoperability,” he added.
The veteran lawmaker also reiterated it is time to put more resources into research and development to improve our competitiveness, “in this day and age of modern information technology.”
This is aside from bringing down corruption, which Lacson said can be done by imposing a single standard of governance — and more importantly, leadership by example.
He reiterated that should he become President in 2022, he will appoint key government officials based not so much on their background but on their qualification for the job.
“In appointing people to handle matters like health and the economy, you cannot base your choice on the person’s background. You have to look at the person’s qualification and competence for the job, along with his or her integrity,” he said.
While the war on illegal drugs will continue, it will follow the holistic formula of Sotto, where authorities will concentrate not only on law enforcement but also on drug abuse prevention.
“Senate President Sotto is right. We cannot solve this through law enforcement alone. Our approach against illegal drugs should be holistic,” Lacson said.
Sotto remains confident his partymates will rally behind Lacson, whom he strongly endorsed to the NPC.
According to Lacson, who served as National Police Chief under former President Joseph Estrada, he will appoint Cabinet posts individuals who have his qualities and that of Sotto.
Lacson likewise emphasized he will not fall into the habit of taking just military solutions to address issues of national importance such as the communist insurgency, the illegal drug trade, and especially the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The presidential aspirant has been advocating a more scientific approach in resolving the lingering public health crisis without enforcing strict lockdowns that sent millions of Filipinos into unemployment, affecting the entire Philippine economy in the process.
“We should come up with more effective measures so we can get rid of imposing lockdowns, because we do not know when the pandemic will end, but it’s not that easy. We need to have data-driven or science-based research as a basis,” said Lacson said during his “Online Kamustahan” with residents of Antipolo City, Rizal over the weekend.