Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday said he’s willing to accept campaign donations from mining companies that are operating legally, as long as those donations would not compromise his mining stance.
Lacson said during his one-on-one interview with Boy Abunda on his YouTube account that he’s all-in for responsible mining and the eradication of the “double-standard” in the regulation of the mining industry.
The senator has been known to refuse campaign donations from companies, including those with pending legislative franchise applications.
“Yes. If the mining company is legal, has permits and follows government measures, why not?” he said, without elaborating whether he’s already the recipient of donations from the mining sector.
If elected president in this year’s elections, the former chief of the Philippine National Police said he intends to address the country’s growing debt by undertaking budgetary reforms.
He cited the need to balance available government funds with expenditures, hinting at an aversion to funding projects or economic pump-priming activities with loans.
Lacson said his Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) program would prod government agencies to adopt a zero-based budgeting system in lieu of the existing use of budget ceilings.
He said BRAVE would promote “judicious spending” and will prevent the accumulation of unused budget, amounting to an average of P328 billion per year in the last decade.
“Let’s balance the budget. Meaning, we will only spend what we need to help the economy rolling and for us to provide social and livelihood services,” he said.
“How? We know that P328 billion remained unutilized so we can start with that. Let’s remove that along with the leakages. There are a lot of leakages in the collection of our revenues and spending,” he said.
Lacson also vowed to digitize government processes and to conduct internal cleansing within the government to curb poverty-inducing corruption.
On the issue of illegal drugs, Lacson said the Philippines is not a “narco” country based on the much worse drug problem of Mexico and Colombia.
As president, Lacson said he’d allow the International Criminal Court (ICC) to come into the country and to investigate the government’s campaign against drugs.
“The ICC is a court of the powerless, who wouldn’t want that?” he said.
Meanwhile, the scuttled peace talks between the government and Maoist forces will have a reboot if he steps into the Palace, Lacson said in a separate interview.
Speaking at DZBB’s Ikaw Na Ba?: The presidential interview, Lacson vowed to revive the peace negotiations with the communists that were terminated by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We will advocate for it,” the senator answered when asked if the peace talks will have a future under his regime. “We should not discard or disregard the peace talks because they are still Filipinos.
We negotiate with other countries when there’s war so why should we not do it with our fellow countrymen? To say it rightly or wrongly, they were just led astray.”
The Chief Executive formally declared the termination of the peace dialogue with the Maoist National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) in November 2017 through Proclamation 360. He later declared CPP-NPA as “terror groups” under Proclamation 273.
Personalities identified with the Left have worked with Duterte, some of them were even part of his Cabinet but they quit when their relationship had gone sour.
Duterte explained in 2021 that his decision stemmed from the CPP’s failure to impose sanctions on communist guerillas who killed government employees and civilians, and its refusal to hold rebels who committed crimes to be held accountable.
He further stressed that the demands of the communist groups were unacceptable to the military. He did not elaborate his point but the communist movement has long been pushing for the Comprehensive Agreement on Social Economic Reforms, which includes a provision on the demobilization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
A long-serving politician, Lacson has supported measures targeted for the eradication of the country’s insurgency issues including the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC).