The political pot has started to boil for the 2022 national elections and the names of boxing champ Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Sen. Panfilo Lacson and San Miguel Corp. (SMC) President and CEO Ramon Ang were added to the list of possible aspirants for the highest post.

Sotto said he and Lacson are being pushed by party-mates in Nationalist People’s Coalition NPC) to run in tandem in the 2022 national elections. The proposed ticket could be Sotto-Lacson or vice versa as happened in a past presidential election where the Gordon-Fernando tandem of Sen. Richard Gordon and former MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando when promoted became Fernando-Gordon in final form.

The NPC is the political party established by the late head honcho of SMC, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, whose current boss Ramon Ang now figures as another presidential bet.  It will be recalled that before the 1991 election, Cojuangco persistently denied that he was running until E-day.

Sotto told reporters in an online interview that some members of NPC, including himself, considered the SMC president-CEO their bet for next year’s presidential race.

Sabi ko, maraming nag-iisip, ibang klase ng thinking mo, klase ng background mo, klase ngmanagement mo, ikaw ang magaling na pwedeng tumakbo na president,” Sotto recalled telling Ang.

Ang sabi sa akin, (presidency) is a demotion,” he recalled.

While Ang was not explicit in his refusal, Sotto believed that the business tycoon’s decision was “final.”

Sotto said he spoke to Ang about the latter’s potential bid for presidency after Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco assumed the post as speaker of the House of Representatives last year.

Members of the NPC in the House supported Velasco in his controversial power struggle against Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Despite this, Sotto said the NPC has yet to start formal talks about their line-up for the 2022 polls.

On the possible Sotto-Lacson ticket, Sotto said the NPC has yet to convince him to run for the presidency or vice presidency.

May mga kumukumbinsi kasi sa kanya (Lacson), meron ding mga kumukumbinsi sa akin. Eh hindi pa kami nakukumbinsi,” Sotto said.

Sotto’s term will end in June 2022.  He has served four terms as senator since 1992.

Asked if he is seeking higher office, the Senate leader said: “Wala pa.  I cannot really answer you directly.”

“Nakikiramdam pa ako, at pinakikinggan ko pa lahat,” he added.

Sotto said he and Lacson also refuse to tackle politics, saying that the COVID-19 pandemic and work in the Senate should be prioritized.

On Pacquiao’s possible run for the presidency, Sotto said: “Some time ago, nagkausap kami, nabanggit niya sakin na interisado siya na tumakbo sa pagkapangulo.”

Pacquiao approached Sotto on the matter once before the pandemic and then another time during the pandemic, according to the Senate leader.

Before Sotto came out with this information, Senator Lacson recalled a similar conversation with Pacquiao. Lacson said Pacquiao approached him several times regarding the matter.

“This was late last year…He’s quite open about it. Although, ayaw niyang pagusapan because of COVID and in fairness to him, consistent naman siya na COVID muna tayo, ‘wag na muna ‘yong pulitika,” Lacson said in a television interview.