Saying Filipino voters are not yet “married” to their chosen candidates, the tandem of Partido Reporma standard bearer Sen. Panfilo Lacson and his running mate Senate President Vicente Sotto III yesterday said they will keep on courting them.
Lacson and Sotto believe they can still change their minds with about three months to go before the May 9 national elections.
Sotto said he and Lacson were not disheartened by recent survey results, and that they would stick to their campaign strategy of telling Filipinos how they can improve their lives once they earn their mandate.
“They probably want to listen to what we plan, and what our platforms are,” said Sotto, who also made his mark in showbusiness before becoming a public servant and senator for 24 years.
Meanwhile, Lacson renewed his proposition on rightsizing the different bureaucratic organizations under the executive branch to optimize the delivery of essential public services and state-funded programs at less cost to taxpayers.
However, he aired his reservations about the legislative proposal to create a Department of Disaster Resilience.
During his visit to Paranaque, the vice-presidential candidate also paid a courtesy call on Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivares, whom Sotto noted graciously received him even if they belong to different political parties.
“Why don’t we put it this way: I am here because I am courting (voters). That’s how it is],” said the chairman of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, noting that the mayor was a ranking official of the ruling PDP-Laban party.
“There is a possibility that the party of Mayor Olivarez will be backing up certain candidates. But that does not prevent us from courting the votes of Parañaque. That’s why I am thankful to Mayor Olivarez, wine-welcome ako rito for the courtesy call,” added Sotto.
The mayor said he had heard what Sotto presented to the local homeowners and came away impressed. He also noted that the lawmaker had authored the measure in the Senate that turned Parañaque into a city on February 15, 1998.
“What we heard from SP (Senate President) earlier was great, good for the country, for our food security, and for our battles against corruption. It was a terrific presentation SP presented to us,” Olivarez said.
That’s why despite the surveys, Sotto said it was never too late to court Filipino voters, as he and Lacson only had to present their reform platform under their mottos “Aayusin ang Gobyerno, Aayusin ang Buhay ng mga Pilipino” (Fix the Government, Fix the Lives of Every Filipino) and “Uubusin ang Magnanakaw” (Get Rid of All Thieves) to help them change their minds.
“I will leave it to the people. We will continue campaigning, we will continue informing them of our track record, what we have done for them and for the entire country and what we can do more, and then express our platform of government, explain our stand and platform reform,” said Sotto of his moves with presidential bet Lacson.
The longtime public servant noted that a bureau under the Office of the President would be enough to consolidate the efforts of various government agencies in terms of responding to natural calamities.
Lacson said there must be one unit that will focus on disasters.
“Let us not venture into creating another department because President (Rodrigo) Duterte already issued a rightsizing guidance. We can’t keep creating new departments resulting in bloated bureaucracy,” he said.
While the presence of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) are felt in times of disaster, he said an agency attached to the OP might help make things more efficient in the long run.
A duly authorized unit tasked to coordinate the strategic efforts of all government agencies during pre-, peri- and post-disaster phases might also deliver longer lasting benefits for disaster-stricken communities, according to the veteran public servant.
He made this proposal after gaining some valuable insights into crisis and disaster management following his stint as Typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation czar.
“What I proposed after my exit call (as rehab czar) post-Yolanda was to create an office under the Office of the President. Because the NDRRMC works as a council, and by council, you need to have all the Cabinet secretaries (and other officials) present because they are the members. It will take time for it to be convened. Although the OCD is there to provide the immediate response because it has the capability.”
Under Lacson’s proposal, someone adept at crisis management will be tasked to call the shots in terms of planning and executing disaster response mechanisms led by the government with proper guidance from and coordination with concerned agencies.
This would be a slight departure from the current system where the NDRRMC chaired by the Secretary of National Defense and co-chaired by the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government would have to meet with all the members of the council first before arriving at a decision.
“We can integrate (the agencies’ functions) through one office, which will be given enough authority, capability, responsibility, funds, and resources that are not necessarily as great as that of a department’s but equally efficient,” he added.