ANI Zooms with Sen. Ping Lacson | Inquirer Opinion
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ANI Zooms with Sen. Ping Lacson

Last Thursday, Aug. 5, the Advocates for National Interest (ANI) had a conversation via Zoom with Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on national defense and security, and an avowed candidate for the presidency.

(No official declaration so far.) In hosting this dialogue, Ed Adan, chair of ANI, declared that the objective is to provide our friends and colleagues with an opportunity to hear his views on various issues particularly those affecting national security. He added that it is ANI’s intention to host similar dialogues with other candidates running for national office in order to provide our electorate with current and accurate information on the positions being held by candidates with respect to the issues of concern with the Filipino voter.

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Senator Lacson, a graduate of PMA Class of 1971, is the second alumnus of the academy to run for the highest post in the land. In 1998, Secretary Renato De Villa, Class of 1957, was a presidential candidate. He lost to Joseph Estrada.

Most of the participants were retired military and police officers and so, a number of topics discussed had to do with welfare matters. We have some excerpts from the exchange of views. Senator Lacson started off by saying: “I would like to spend a few minutes to tackle a subject close to my heart. There have been persistent reports in the form of feedback from fellow Cavaliers coming from the retired sector that I have neglected their welfare. I wish to get this out of the way by presenting some of the work that was done on their behalf.

FEATURED STORIES

“First, in November 2017, I filed Senate Joint Resolution No. 10 to authorize the increase of base pay of military and uniformed personnel (MUP) to include retirement benefits. Joint Resolution No. 10 was replaced by Senate Resolution No. 11 and became Joint Resolution No. 1 that increased the base pay of MUPs. Sen. Gregorio Honasan as then chair of the Senate defense committee was the principal sponsor. In fairness to President Rodrigo Duterte, at a joint session with the House of Representatives in 2018, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea pushed for the passage of Joint Resolution No. 1 at a time when we were having problems looking for funds.

“Second, through the intercession of Undersecretary Nestor Carolina of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, P6.7 billion was allocated for the retired sector to include the additional medical requirements of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The old-age pension for almost 5,000 senior veterans was increased to P15,000 monthly.”

On the drive against graft and corruption, Senator Lacson stressed leadership by example. “I consider this second to none… a leader who does not set the right example can never succeed. Consistency is important and a double standard is completely unacceptable. This should cut across the entire bureaucracy. If government is corrupt how can we expect the citizenry to remain upright. These are principles that I have adhered to in my long years of public service. In my time as chief, PNP, I was able to restore trust of our people in the police organization. The kotong cops disappeared, and PNP operational funds reached down to the lowest elements of our units.

“On education, recent reports put the Philippines last in reading proficiency out of 59 countries included in the assessment and second to the last in math and science. This is a deep-rooted problem. There is much to be desired in our education system. In the past, our public school system was fine but this has deteriorated through the years. Education starts at home and the role of the family is important in the formation of values. We will never be able to compete with the outside world if the quality of our education is poor and unresponsive to the needs of the nation.”

On fixed terms for the AFP chief of staff and major service commanders: Senator Lacson expressed support for the measure and advised that he was prepared to file his committee report when the Senate returns to session. The laws on retirement of officers have an impact on MUP pensions. These are issues that have to be dealt with together. It is a difficult and complicated matter to tackle and will require much funding.

On the theme for his campaign: Competence, loyalty to the Republic, and political will to address national problems—Kakayahan, Katapatan, Katapangan, or KKK.

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TAGS: Advocates for National Interest, AFP issues, national security, panfilo lacson, Ramon J. Farolan, Reveille
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