Sen. Panfilo Lacson will again run for president, this time with Senate President Vicente Sotto as his running mate.

This likely scenario was told to media by Sotto himself last week, shortly after he had said that he was “seriously thinking” of running for vice-president.

For his part, Lacson said he was seriously considering a second run at the presidency but only if Sotto agreed to be his running mate.

After the two pro-administration senators were pressed by media to confirm their reported plan, Lacson said their 2022 run was already “cast in stone” but with some considerations.

A presidential run is one of two choices for Lacson, who said he could also retire from politics. This, despite his being qualified to run for another term in the Senate.

But the former Philippine National Police chief said he had done all he could do as senator, and another term was now out of the question.

Should he decide not to run for president, Lacson said he would still support Sotto’s plan to run for vice-president.

Lacson cited two reasons why he was wary of running for president next year. For one, the coronavirus pandemic was still besieging the country. For another, there is the growing Chinese militarization of the West Philippine Sea.

Lacson said he and Sotto were consulting with former Cabinet secretaries and high-ranking officials from past administrations to determine if their partnership was best suited to solve the twin problems facing the Philippines.

Lacson first ran for president in 2004 but lost to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and second-place Fernando Poe, Jr.

Lacson served three terms as senator, first in 2001 to 2007, then in 2007 to 2013, and finally from 2016 to 2022.

Their plan would throw a wrench at the Duterte administration’s attempt to have a single slate to face the opposition, which is likely to have a Leni Robredo-Antonio Trillanes tandem in next year’s presidential elections.

The Duterte camp is widely believed to be backing a Sara Duterte-Carpio — Bong Go pairing, although changes are still possible after Pastor Apollo Quiboloy – one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s closest advisers – said that former presidential bet Gilbert ‘Gibo’ Teodoro would be the running mate of the president’s daughter.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao also made it increasingly clear that he will run for president in 2022 no matter what and even exchanged words with President Duterte, who had questioned his qualifications. Pacquiao serves as president of PDP-Laban, the party that propelled Duterte to the presidency in 2016.

Yet another senator eyeing the presidency is Bong Go, who continues to serve as unofficial adviser to the President despite his duties in the Senate. He is said to be willing to run for vice- president should Sara Duterte agree to run but the entry of Teodoro has affected his chances.

Also reported to be seeking the presidency is former senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. He and his sister Sen. Imee Marcos recently met with Sara Duterte-Carpio, reportedly to ask her to consider the former senator to be her running mate.

Then there is former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who was the running mate of then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. He, however, lost to Leni Robredo. Cayetano said last week that he was considering running for the presidency next year.

Of all the candidates, only PDP-Laban as well as the united opposition – most likely under the Liberal Party — have the organization and the funds to mount a nationwide campaign.

The contenders for president have to file their certificates of candidacy by October. Only then will the official line-up be clear.