No matter how lonely, no matter how tough, presidential candidate Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson and senatorial aspirant Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Piñol expressed no regrets in their journey this 2022 election season, which, for the most part, sought to enlighten Filipinos about the challenges of public service.
In a press conference they held together Wednesday in Dumaguete City, Lacson opened up about his life as a ‘lonely crusader,’ fighting against the ills of government with a few allies but often on his own. Despite the difficulties, however, he knows he has proven himself right and he is still standing.
“All my life, all my public service life, I always go against the tide. Somehow in so many ways, maski nag-iisa ako, talagang lumalaban ako. Ako lang mag-isa nga ‘yung lumaban against pork barrel and I was proven right in the end na talagang constitutionally infirm ‘yung pork barrel system,” he said.
[All my life, all my public service life, I always go against the tide. Somehow in so many ways, even if I’m alone, I am really fighting. I was the only one who fought against pork barrel, and I was proven right in the end, that the pork barrel system was constitutionally infirm.]
“In so many battles that I had participated in, even when I was still in the police service or the armed forces, somehow na-pro-prove ko naman ‘yung sarili ko (I was able to prove myself),” added Lacson, a three-term senator and former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Lacson was answering a reporter’s question if he was still up to the challenge of competing in the upcoming May 9 elections. He and Piñol are aware of the realities of the situation but they are not disappointed with the decisions they made, especially in terms of going against political traditions.
“Sir, if you are called a lonely crusader, I’ve been called a maverick. Matigas ang ulo ko e (I am stubborn). I always go against tradition. The reason why I decided to stick it out with Senator Ping (is because) he embodies the virtues of a leader that I would like to see for this country,” Piñol said.
Piñol praised Lacson for being ‘very honest’ about himself. The former Agriculture secretary also gave him credit for being consistent in his campaign against corruption, which reflected on his selection of senatorial candidates, who readily joined his cause.
“Paano tayo mangangampanya against corruption kung (ang mga) kasama natin ay (may) mga kaso? And here I am, proud to tell you that itong kasama ko, pwede akong sumigaw ng anti-corruption because malinis ‘yung (track) record,” the senatorial bet told reporters.
[How can we effectively campaign against corruption if the people we are with have (graft) cases? And here I am, proud to tell you that the person I am with, I can scream about anti-corruption because he has a clean (track) record.]
Aside from Piñol, Lacson also handpicked public health advocate Dr. Minguita Padilla and former PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar as potential future senators who are also part of his ticket with running mate Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III.
Piñol is hopeful that voters would eventually see the value of having Lacson as a leader, so they can turn both their lifelong crusade against corruption into a happy one for the Filipinos. He is convinced that what they lacked in resources, they more than made up for it with their genuine heart for public service.
“Kung lonely crusader si Ping Lacson (If Ping Lacson is a lonely crusader), together we will make it a happy crusade. Happy for our people that at least somehow, they are realizing now na may mga tao pang matitino sa gobyerno (that there are really good people in government),” he said.
Because, for Piñol, “the greatest tragedy of this nation is when the Filipino people will feel so depressed, so frustrated that they don’t want to move anymore and contribute something to the country.”
“At least, ‘yung aming (in our) candidacy, wherever this may take us, will serve as a flicker of hope for the country that there are still people in government who are willing to serve honestly, to go out of their way, to stake their name whatever legal resources we have,” according to Piñol.