Why did Ping Lacson suddenly end his “Tour of Luzon”?

It was supposed to be a wide-ranging consultation with local leaders in various provinces of Luzon, a process that could take weeks and months, to enable Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and his purported running mate, Senate President Tito Sotto, to get a sense of what they think are his chances if and when he decides to run for President.

The “tour” started in the historic Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan where the duo had their pictures taken while praying at a pew. That was a Thursday, July 8. To everybody’s surprise, the news coverage ended up Lacson put out a press release from a La Union stop-over in which he described the May 9, 2022 elections as the most serious and important in recent Philippine history. Sotto announced he and Lacson will make an announcement on August 5, 2021 on their decision.

Have they cut short their consultations and already weigh the feedback they have gathered in only three days? There is no word their trip to the Ilocos provinces had gone ahead as scheduled. How about the Visayas and Mindanao? Will they no longer seek feedback from the rest of the nation? Are the three days enough to make a decision?

My gut feel is that three days in Bulacan, Pangasinan and La Union gave them enough evidence that running for President and Vice President would be an exercise in futility. Lacson wasn’t in the top 5 among presidential probables, securing a place a notch lower than Leni Robredo. Knowing how unpopular Robredo is, and seeing himself earn a slot slightly below her is a telling blow that could not be ignored.

It’s not as if Lacson lacked media exposure in a way that Filipino voters haven’t had an opportunity to size him up. Lacson was active in his work in the Senate. He took active part in Senate investigations and always asked scalpel-like questions. The Pulse Asia survey showed Lacson enjoyed 99% awareness level. Hence, his poor performance in the latest survey suggests that despite his posturing at every opportunity, his efforts to persuade voters that he is presidential timber didn’t achieve the desired results.

Lacson said it’s either the Presidency or retirement. He’s eligible to seek re-election. And the poll survey showed that if he ran for re-election,, he would be a shoo-in for another six-year term. He is tied for 8th to 11th places in the survey, and that could be reinforced with good campaigning.

What this tells me is that Filipino voters believe Lacson has done an excellent job as legislator, and they would gladly vote for him again. But very few — 4% — believe he has the right stuff to become President. Perhaps it is an issue of trust. There’s something about his eyes that makes many people nervous. Are the ghosts of his past as police officer haunting him? Maybe. But a dagger-look in the eyes does send a chilling sensation to ordinary people. It is a cause for discomfort.

Let’s wait and see. Aug. 5 is less than three weeks away.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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