Filipinos just love elections.
A total of 130 have filed certificates of candidacy for president in the May 2016 elections and 19 for vice president.
There are 172 who are vying for the 12 slots in the Senate.
The five reelectionist senators – Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Teofisto Guingona III, Sergio Osmeña III, Vicente Sotto III- have an edge being familiar names and having an established
nationwide machinery. Unless something terribly awful happens that would involve them in controversy before the elections, they are expected to be in the Magic 12.
There are four former senators who want to return to the Senate and they also enjoy an advantage in terms of name recall. They are Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Richard Gordon, Francis Pangilinan, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
But it’s not a comfortable advantage as experienced by Gordon in the 2013 elections (he placed number 13 in the election topped by Grace Poe) and Zubiri, who placed 14th.
With the nine slots almost taken up by re-electionist and former senators, it would be an uphill battle for the new aspirants for the Senate except probably for boxing idol Manny Pacquiao.
But even Pacquiao can’t be sure. Many applaud him as a boxer but he has nothing to be proud of as a legislator representing Sarangani province. He was an absentee congressman. He had also lost an election in 2007 although he bounced back in the succeeding elections and has established himself and members of his family, including his wife, Jinky, as a political force in the South Cotabato and Sarangani politics.
Of the new senatorial candidates, it’s former Justice Leila de Lima who fared well in last survey (September 2015) of Pulse Asia for the senatorial race.
But while De Lima gained admiration from many for not bowing to the Iglesia ni Cristo’s (INC) pressure in the investigation of allegations of kidnapping and illegal detention by some members of the religious sect, that could be a problem for her come election day. Sources said the INC leadership will do everything to block De Lima’s election as senator.
INC is known to vote as a bloc. In 2001 elections, pollster Junie Laylo, then with Social Weather Stations, said “The INC’s vote strength is only about 1.2 million or 3% of the total electorate, but with a conversion rate of 68-84% that translates to about 800 thousand to 1 million votes for senatorial candidates endorsed by its leadership.”
That was in 2001. It can be presumed that the numbers have increased in the last 14 years.
“As a solid voting bloc, INC votes can be very influential in helping borderline candidates for the Senate,” Laylo said.
But the recent controversy showed that the religious sect being a “solid voting bloc” is now in doubt.
De Lima will just have to campaign very hard to overcome the lack of support from INC. Election history has shown that there are candidates who have won without INC support.
There are a number of new and not-so-new senatorial aspirants who deserve to be in the Senate. I’d like to mention Neri Colmenares, Lorna Kapunan, Susan Ople, and Risa Hontiveros.
Also former Police Chief Ramon Montaño.
Despite the presence of clowns, we have a good list to choose from.
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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.