NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur - Otso Diretso senatorial candidates on Wednesday touted their clean track records at the expense of candidates facing corruption cases and branded as "thieves."
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, without mentioning specific names, said the opposition slate may be suffering from low voter awareness but for good reason.
“Kaming mga Otso Diretso, hindi kami kilala. Hindi talaga kami kilala sa pagnanakaw,” Macalintal said in a sortie in Iriga City.
“Kaming Otso Diretso ay may mga track record. Yung iba, baka ibang record ang meron sila,” human rights lawyer Chel Diokno said in the same gathering.
Senatorial candidates and former lawmakers Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada were detained in 2013 after allegedly pocketing millions from their Priority Development Assistance Funds through ghost organizations linked to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Estrada and Revilla are backed by Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), a regional political party set up by President Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
The anti-graft court acquitted Revilla of plunder, but ordered him to return about P124 million in public funds. His pork barrel graft cases are also still pending before the Sandiganbayan. Enrile and Estrada are both just out on bail.
The opposition slate took advantage of the friendly crowd in their proclamation rally at Plaza Roxas in Naga City, the bailiwick of Vice President Leni Robredo.
“Ang katarungan sa atin, nawawala na. Makatarungan ba ang sinasabi ni Bongbong Marcos na siya ang bise? Makatarungan ba na ipinakulong nila si Sec. [Leila] De Lima ng walang ebidensya?” said Diokno, whose main campaign thrust is justice.
Bicolano voters cheered on Macalintal after he reminded the crowd that he was defending Robredo in her electoral protest against former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
“Kaya siya sinasabihang madaya dahil yung isa, hindi marunong tumanggap ng pagkatalo,” Macalintal said.
“Sinasabi nila yan dahil gusto nila ang pangalan nila nandiyan pa rin sa pulitika,” he said.
Imee Marcos, the elder sister of Marcos Jr., is running for senator under the administration slate.