Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday asked voters why they choose thieves if getting robbed is one of their worst fears, as he pitched a presidency that is built around fighting corruption.
Lacson and his rivals, Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Sen. Manny Pacquiao and labor leader Leody de Guzman faced off for the first time in a live multimedia broadcast hosted by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas.
The survey frontrunner, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., skipped the forum citing scheduling conflicts.
"Lahat tayo takot manakawan, ngunit tuwing eleksyon naman may mga binoboto tayong mga magnanakaw," said Lacson, who was first elected to the Senate in 2001 and also served as national police chief.
"For the longest time, we have witnessed how corruption is the worst form of thievery. It destroys our nation, denying people their livelihood, health, education equal opportunity and worse the future of our generation," he said.
Lacson, who built a reputation around finding loopholes in the national budget, said the country lost around P700 billion annually to corruption.