Seems that a “third force” or what Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate president Vicente “Tito” Sotto III describes as an “alternative” had already appeared, complicating the already confused political landscape.
Lacson is gunning for the presidency with Sotto as his partner. While both are faring poorly at the surveys but don’t count them out. Sotto heads the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) with hundreds of local officials as members. Lacson, on the other hand, have been winning senatorial elections with his own grassroots machinery composed of ex police officials in office, and supported by the Filipino-Chinese community.
Tito Sotto is the inheritor of the brilliant orator and son of Cebu, his grandfather, the first Vicente Sotto who served as a senator as well. The Senate president is rumored to be gunning for the mayoral post of Joy Belmonte. For some reason, Sotto decided to seek his luck for the vice presidential post, presumably either preparing the ground for a presidential run of his nephew, Pasig mayor Vico Sotto or possibly, his own.
Whatever motivated Sotto from running in this post, many observers including this writer is convinced that Sotto stands a pretty good chance of clinching the vice presidential post come 2022, especially since he has the support of his colleagues, namely returning legislators, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Loren Legarda–two former frontrunners in the Senate with their own established grassroots machinery.
With the NPC moving on its own, the possibility of attracting minor political parties in a coalition setup looms. Lacson and Sotto had spoken with remaining leaders of Aksyon Demokratiko, the dormant political party created by former senator Raul Roco. Aksyon Demokratiko now is composed of former members of the Aquino III administration who has lost their own organizations, or are at loggerheads with the Liberal-Akbayan-Magdalo aggregation. There is a possibility that a size-able chunk of the 1Sambayan coalition may gravitate with this coalition and may possibly turn this group into a much stronger opposition.
This is the rub– with two emerging non-Duterte political groups out to compete in the next elections–will this be the major factor that will lead to a possible Sara Duterte-Bong Go win? Maybe, or maybe not.
While 1Sambayan is posturing itself as the main opposition, the Lacson-Sotto tandem is “neutral”– another word for a “third force.” Lacson says his team up with Sotto is viable considering that major political personalities are supporting their run.
This leaves 1Sambayan in a quandary. Vice President Leni Robredo is still consulting with different political personalities on what to do this coming 2022. Some of her supporters want her to decide yet, it seems that the real reason why Robredo is still undecided is the fact that she feels that she has a bigger chance of winning a gubernatorial post instead of a national post.
The surveys do not lie–Robredo’s numbers have plateau-ed. 1Sambayan would be hard-pressed improving her numbers. The most logical way forward for 1Sambayan is to team her up with Manila mayor Isko Moreno who is performing rather competitively against Sara Duterte in the survey game. The thing is–of which post will Robredo choose considering that Moreno fares better than her in the surveys. Obviously Robredo cannot run anymore for the second highest post and the logical thing is for her to gun for the presidency–a thing that many in the Liberal party hopes for her to do. The only problem is–will Moreno settle for the vice presidential post? Obviously, this will not be good for Moreno’s career. Moreno is in a better position compared with Robredo. First, the good mayor may opt for a second term as Chief Executive of Manila and wait for several more years to gun for a national post, just like what Pasig mayor Vico Sotto is doing. Or, he may just wager his chances in the presidency and risk losing everything.
Sources are floating the idea of a Moreno-Pacquiao jr tandem for the opposition. Obviously, such a team up is unacceptable to Liberal party members of 1Sambayan since their main manok is Robredo. As a Robredo-Moreno is simply impossible, a Robredo-Pacquiao may simply be “it,” with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV campaigning himself back to the Senate.
Or, it may actually be a Robredo-Sotto tandem come October when the filing of certificates of candidacy comes. Lacson may just be a “stand-in” while Robredo ponders on her future. This already happened in the past, when Lacson ran and eventually decided to just hand his support behind another presidential contender.