Now it can be told: It was a Boholano mayor who ignited the passion of independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson to scrutinize the national budget.
At the start of a meeting with representatives of sectoral groups in Bohol Tuesday, Lacson thanked Jagna Mayor Joseph Rañola for teaching him everything about analyzing the budget.
“There’s one person who taught me everything. The Filipino people owe it to him na may Sen. Lacson sa Senado na nagtitiyaga at nagkakalkal ng budget (There’s one person who taught me everything. Filipinos owe it to him that there is a Senator Lacson who pores through the national budget),” he said.
Lacson – who earned a reputation as a tough, eagle-eyed watchdog of the national budget – said it was Rañola, then a private citizen, who helped him realize the importance of making the budget work for Filipinos.
When he won his first Senate seat in 2001, Lacson said he faced a learning curve as he was still used to his work as a law enforcer who spent sleepless nights solving kidnap-for-ransom cases, robberies, and other crimes.
Rañola’s guidance also helped Lacson in his advocacy to give local government units a fair share of the budget so they can implement their local development projects.
During his 18 years as senator, Lacson and his staff would spend nights poring over the budget and ridding it of questionable insertions – despite the contents of the budget bill being inches thick and in tiny 10-point font.
“Mahirap pag-aralan pero sa turo niya, pinagtiyagaan at pinagaralan … at nakabisado ko na rin (It was hard at first but with his guidance, I persevered and learned to scrutinize the budget),” he said.
“Because of the scrutiny, we saved taxpayers at least P300 billion,” Lacson added.
Lacson and his vice presidential bet Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, along with senatoriables Minguita Padilla and Emmanuel Piñol, received a warm welcome in Bohol.
The Lacson-Sotto tandem are bringing their message of good governance directly to the people as they move to counter “survey politics,” especially since they have an average of 40 percent “soft votes” where they are being considered by voters but the voters are hesitating because they are not leading in the surveys.
Also, the Lacson-Sotto tandem said Filipinos should learn to decide for themselves instead of succumbing to the survey or bandwagon mentality, lest they waste their votes by not voting for someone who is most competent, most qualified, most experienced, and with the highest integrity in public service.