With the barangay elections over and done with, focus on the political front will now shift to the forthcoming 2019 elections, which will be done through automated voting machines.
This means that the Commission on Elections will require candidates to file their certificates of candidacy, along with their party nominations on or about the first week of October, 2018. That is just four and a half months away.
A big number of congressmen will be “graduating” from their third term, some from their second round of three terms each. The same goes with local government heads, whether municipal or city mayors, and governors.
But if the barangay elections with prevalent vote-buying even for the lowest unit of government is template of the forthcoming electoral exercise, it is safe to predict that it will be the sons and daughters, wives and siblings of the dynasts who will once again rule both Congress and the LGUs.
Time has run out on constitutional change, with federalism still misunderstood, or worse, not understood at all by our people. So come May of 2019, voters will still choose 12 senators on a national scale, and their representatives in Congress along with their LGU heads.
When the current majority party was making noises about an entirely PDP-Laban slate to the exclusion of reelectionist senators who belong to other parties even if these were coalesced with the administration, there was talk of an “independent” bloc of senatorial candidates composed of incumbents Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito running as a “third force.”
A “third force” led by reelectionists could easily entice NP Pia Cayetano, and some other strong contenders, leaving both the PDP-Laban and the Liberal Party opposition coalition having problems forming a complete and winnable senatorial slate.
That prospect seems to have petered out when the surveys showed the reelectionists are likely to win, and win big. Could Koko Pimentel, the only PDP-Laban candidate ranking well in the surveys, possibly lead a ticket with many of his party-mates not faring well even on the awareness game a few months before COCs are filed?
And so unless events spoil the administration’s plans, the reelectionists in the majority coalition are likely to be part of the ticket. To enumerate, Pimentel, Poe, Villar, Binay, Angara, Ejercito, Cayetano, Bong Go, Harry Roque, Francis Tolentino, plus two more. Imee Marcos’ numbers are pretty good, and it does not seem like Bongbong would abandon his electoral protest against Leni Robredo. If that happens, only one more, likely a three-term congressman, will fill up the administration slate.
What about the opposition led by the Liberal Party?
They have one incumbent, Bam Aquino, who is gunning for reelection and shall lead the opposition slate. Add Rep. Gary Alejano who hopes to replace Sen. Antonio Trillanes who comes from the same party. Quien mas?
There has been speculation about 2016 LP presidential candidate Mar Roxas, but Mar seems uninterested. In a previous column, I said that he is being goaded to run for Roxas City mayor, but even this does not seem to excite Mar. Neither Korina Sanchez, his television celebrity wife.
Hobbled though the numbers may be, the opposition is quietly trying to form a 2019 senatorial slate, and my information says the following are the names in contention: Erin Tañada of Quezon, son of Senator Bobby, grandson of the illustrious Senator Lorenzo, fondly referred to as the nationalist Ka Tanny.
Jose “Chel” Diokno, son of another great nationalist, Senator Jose Wright Diokno, who was incarcerated for years by Ferdinand Marcos along with Ninoy Aquino immediately after the declaration of martial law.
Hilario Davide Sr., former Chief Justice, former Comelec chairman, whose son and namesake is the incumbent governor of Cebu.
Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao, where the Banaue Rice Terraces are located. Former party-list congressman and former undersecretary of political affairs Barry Gutierrez.
That makes seven, and still being “wooed” or written down as part of a potential short list are: Former presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda; movie actor Dingdong Dantes; telenovela mainstay and actress Agot Isidro; former DSWD secretary Dinky Soliman; APO Hiking Society’s Jim Paredes, an active anti-administration advocate, along with fellow Black-and-White Movement stalwart Leah Navarro.
Another possible candidate in their short list is former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, the firebrand of an environmental advocate who belongs to the ultra-wealthy Lopez media clan.
Who among them will ultimately agree to run for the senatorial elections next year is still up in the air. Some of the names are political ilustrado. Some are celebrities. Some will run if only to make a political statement, the surveys on winnability notwithstanding.
And after the 13th of May, Ma. Lourdes Sereno is another possible Senate contender.
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We express our condolences to Mrs. Gloria Angara, her son Senator Sonny, and the rest of the loved ones left orphaned by the demise of Senator Ed Angara. Many in government now, whether in the executive or legislature, as well as in the private sector, were “graduates” of the SEJA school, whether in ACCRA, the State University, or the Senate.