By his recent pronouncements, it would seem that Sen. Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson is breaking away from the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Not that he is a member of the administration, but Lacson has long been perceived to be an ally of the President.
A few months ago, Aquino had said that he was ready to welcome Lacson to his Cabinet after the latter ended his career in the Senate.
While there was initial talk that the Interior and Local Government post was where Lacson would end up, later pronouncements from the Palace indicated that a new position would be created for the lawmaker from Cavite. He would head a body that would go after bigtime grafters in government.
But when the pork barrel scandal broke, Lacson began taking a stance that was opposed to that of the Aquino administration.
Although the Priority Development Assistance Fund (a.k.a. pork barrel) had become universally reviled making it a political necessity to scrap, the Palace wanted to hold on to the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP.
The DAP was another form of pork barrel separate from the PDAF. For whatever reason, Malacañang wanted to retain the program as this was the source of funds needed to spur the economy and react to unexpected emergencies such as the Bohol earthquake and the destruction of central Visayas by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
This was not palatable to Lacson, and he was not averse to sharing his thoughts on the matter with the media and the public.
People who have worked with him know where he is coming from. Lacson may have his share of enemies and detractors, but no one can question one fact: he never availed of his pork barrel allotments because he did not believe in a system where men and women elected to craft laws were spending more of their time determining where to place the PDAF they were entitled to, year in and year out.
In short, it was a matter of principle.
Lacson and former senator Joker Arroyo are the only two lawmakers who are known to have totally rejected their pork barrel allotments.
Very recently, it has been revealed from Lacson himself that President Aquino had been trying to make him avail of his PDAF as far back as 2011. The senator said no.
If he rejects pork barrel in all its incarnations, there is no reason to believe that Lacson would be supportive of DAP. Now, it seems that he will have to forego his acceptance of a Cabinet post because of his unbending stand.
We do not wish to second guess Lacson. But is must be pointed out that he remains young enough to again aspire for the presidency. It is a given that the two likely candidates for the presidency in 2016 are Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Lacson may want to present himself to the electorate as a viable third force candidate.
And why not? Thus far, Roxas has been far from impressive as local government secretary, while Binay’s constant politicking even during this time of national crisis is turning off a lot of voters.
Whether part of a medium-term strategy or not, Lacson’s veering away from Aquino may set the stage for a second try at the presidency three years from now.