MANILA - Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Benigno Aquino III and his running mate Manuel Roxas II, along with their senatorial slate, filed on Saturday their certificates of candidacy (CoCs) in the most well-attended and star-studded filing since the Commission on Elections (Comelec) started accepting CoCs last November 20.
The LP senatorial ticket includes former Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta, former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general Ralph Recto, Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, and Bukidnon 2nd District Rep. Teofisto Guingona III.
Guest senatorial candidates Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, educator Sonia Roco (wife of late Senator Raul Roco), and lawyer Alexander Lacson (represented by wife Pia during the filing) also filed on Saturday.
Detained Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, another guest senatorial candidate of the LP, filed his candidacy on Friday.
Recto and Roco both ran for a Senate seat in the 2007 elections but lost. Recto was with the ruling party then, while Roco ran under the opposition coalition.
Former Senator Franklin Drilon, also part of LP’s senatorial slate, will file his CoC separately.
Another slot in the senatorial line-up had been reserved for former Senator Sergio Osmeña III, but he recently bolted the LP slate to protest the inclusion of Recto.
Osmeña, who filed on Thursday his candidacy as an independent senatorial candidate, said he does not approve of how the LP keeps recruiting "traditional politicians". He, however, said that he would still support the presidential bid of Aquino.
Before heading to the Comelec office for the filing, the LP team marched from Roxas Boulevard to Intramuros, where they attended mass at Manila Cathedral and staged a mini-campaign rally.
Aquino opted to have the filing on Saturday instead of November 27, the birthday of his late father Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr..
LP spokesperson Edwin Lacierda explained, through a text message, that Aquino had other activities lined up for his father's birth anniversary.
"There were so many activities lined up yesterday for his dad's commemoration such as the inauguration of the volunteers' headquarters in the afternoon. Senators Noy and Mar decided to file their CoCs today, which will be the only activity, and to give importance as well to the filing of CoCs of the Senate slate," Lacierda said.
The LP standard-bearer said the party will pursue a "people's campaign" strategy, adding that they have already gathered 200,000 volunteers for their campaign.
“Bakit naman namin tatanggihan kung sinong gustong sumama sa amin. We will accept everybody who wants to follow the same agenda," Aquino told reporters.
During the announcement of his presidential bid last September, Aquino said it would be too late to run a traditional campaign, and that he would just let the people do it for him.
Or trapo campaign?
But in a phone interview, political analyst Benito Lim said that there's a "gap between what Aquino says and what he does."
"He will deny what he's doing, but that [campaign] is the work of a traditional politician. It just showed their strategy from the very beginning," Lim said.
The LP’s entourage in the CoC filing appeared more like a celebrity campaign than a “people’s campaign.”
Outside the Comelec office, celebrities were almost everywhere, drawing attention to the growing crowd of supporters and spectators.
TV personalities Dingdong Dantes, Marian Rivera, Gretchen Barreto, Cesar Montano, Kim Chiu, Erich Gonzales, Enchong Dee, and Coco Martin were spotted among the pool of supporters shouting and waiting for the LP candidates outside.
Aquino’s girlfriend, Valenzuela councilor Shalani Soledad, was also outside the poll office.
Other personalities were famous family members of the Araneta-Roxas and Cojuangco-Aquino clans: Roxas' mother Judy Araneta-Roxas, wife Korina Sanchez, and Aquino's sisters Balsy, Pinky, Viel, and actress-TV host Kris.
Supporters, based on the imprints on their t-shirts, were groups organized by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri, and Pasay City Vice Mayor Antonio Calixto to show support for the LP candidates.
Lim is known as a staunch supporter of the late former President Corazon Aquino, mother of Senator Noynoy Aquino. Echiverri and Calixto were among the politicians who transferred from Lakas-Kampi-CMD to LP.
In an earlier report, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez appealed to aspirants to limit the number of supporters they bring when filing their COCs. (Newsbreak)