MANILA (3rd UPDATE)— Political coalition 1Sambayan on Saturday bared six names of its potential candidates for president and vice president in the 2022 elections as it hopes to unify the opposition and field a single tandem.
1Sambayan named Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Grace Poe, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, CIBAC Party-list Rep. Eddie Villanueva, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos, and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno as its possible nominees for the country's top two posts.
Former foreign affairs chief Albert del Rosario said the list would be updated.
During the coalition's presentation, the convenors said they chose the candidates based on their character, personal and public integrity, competence, track record, as well as their projects and advocacies.
Lawyer Howard Calleja, one of the coalition's co-convenors, earlier said 1Sambayan also took into consideration the candidates' track record and stand on issues such as pandemic response, jobs, hunger, West Philippine Sea, and rule of law, among others.
Calleja earlier in the day pointed out that the group came up with the list out of the many names given to them for the presidency and vice presidency.
Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, meanwhile, said 1Sambayan would take part of their nominees' campaign, but it would be separate from the political machinery of the candidate.
"They will have their own political machineries. But we will put up our own political machinery for 1Sambayan to campaign for the entire election slate... from the president to the senate. We will have our political machineries separate from the political machineries of the political parties," said Carpio.
The move came less than 4 months before the filing of candidacy, and as the country marked its 123rd Independence Day.
2 OF 6 NOMINEES TURN DOWN OFFER
Poe and Santos-Recto turned down the coalition's nomination, as they were supposedly not running for any position in next year's elections.
In a statement following the announcement, Poe said while she appreciated the coalition nominating her for the top posts, she reiterated that she has no plans to run, most especially as president.
"Wala akong planong tumakbo sa pagkapangulo sa darating na eleksyon. Sa abot ng aking makakaya bilang senador, nais kong pagtuunan ng atensyon ang pag-ahon ng ating mga kababayan mula sa pandemyang ito," she said.
(I don't have any plans to run as president in the upcoming elections. As a senator, I would focus on alleviating the Filipino public's problems due to this pandemic as long as I can.)
Calleja said they respect Poe's decision.
"It is very clear in our conversations that... they are one with 1Sambayan in forming and agreeing that we only need a solid and one opposition come 2022," he said.
Poe, whose presidential bid in 2016 was tainted with a disqualification case due to citizenship issues, topped the senatorial polls in 2019.
She had branded herself as an independent candidate in her campaigns.
Santos-Recto, a House deputy speaker, said she still has "no plans" for next year's elections.
"I am focused on assisting Lipa City in its vaccination program and in providing assistance to families who need it most. Furthermore, I have my legislative duties to attend to," she said.
Diokno, meanwhile, said he was "honored" to be nominated by 1Sambayan even if he "never aspired" for the presidency or the vice presidency.
"I hope to serve our country, especially the youth and the ordinary Filipino, in justice, accountability, and relief from the pandemic," he said.
Diokno failed to clinch a Senate seat during the 2019 midterm elections, settling for the 21st spot.
Robredo earlier said she is open to run for the country's top post but emphasized she had to take some things into consideration.
Her camp added that she could wait until late September to announce her final decision.
The Vice President's spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez, said she is still focused on her office's COVID-19 relief efforts, but she thanked the opposition coalition for being chosen as a possible candidate.
"Patuloy ang kanyang panawagan na kailangang makinig, maging bukas, at umunawa sa pinanggagalingan ng lahat para maging matagumpay ang anumang proseso ng pagkakaisa," Gutierrez noted.
(We continue our calls for them to listen, be open, and to understand where everyone is coming from so the process of unification would be successful.)
During 1Sambayan's event, Robredo said it is important to pinpoint the reason behind the problems the country is facing.
"Unang hakbang ang pagkilala sa ugat ng mga suliraning ito. Maraming pangangailangang di napupunan. Maraming pangarap na parang hindi matupad-tupad," she said.
(The first step is to realize the root of our problems. Our needs are still not responded to, a lot of dreams are still unreachable.)
"Matagal nang frustrated ang Pilipino, at ginagamit ng iba ang frustration na ito para pagwatak-watakin tayo. Para idiin ang pagkakaiba natin, kaysa sa mga bagay na nagbibigkis sa atin."
(Filipinos are frustrated for so long and some are using this frustration to divide us, to highlight our differences instead of unifying us)
Trillanes said it was a "huge honor" to be shortlisted by 1Sambayan for the presidency and that he trusts them.
"Nagtitiwala kami sa wisdom ng mga conveners ng 1Sambayan at naniniwala kami na ito ang tanging vehicle tungo sa pgpanalo ng oposisyon sa 2022."
(We trust the conveners' wisdom and we believe this is the only vehicle for the opposition's win in 2022
Trillanes, a vocal critic of the administration, had expressed his intention to run as president as early as May.
The former lawmaker even said he is eyeing the presidency should Robredo decide not to run for the post. He lost his vice presidential bid in 2016.
Villanueva, an evangelist, had lost presidential bids in 2004 and 2010.
Santos, a former Batangas governor, has never sought a post higher than the House of Representatives, while Diokno lost a senatorial bid in 2019.
CAMPAIGN DURING THE PANDEMIC
Lawyer Tony La Viña, former dean of the Manila-based Ateneo School of Government, said the campaign should be based on a scientific process.
He added that a scientific-based political strategy would boost a candidate's chances.
"Hindi pwedeng sentimiyento lang. Marami kasi sa atin, I want this, I want that, I urge everyone to abandon that mentality. .. Importante I think, na kung may choices tayo, importanteng tanungin natin how can this candidate win?" he explained.
(We cannot bank on our sentiments anymore. Most of us want this, want that... It is important that we have these choices and ask ourselves how we can make this candidate win?)
Andrew Marasigan, a columnist, said the candidate's messaging would be a huge factor in the political campaigns during the pandemic.
"People gravitate to organization and people grravitate towards the good. I feel very confident with the 1Sambayan... it's only underlined by the fact that the lower moral ground would fail and the statistics prove it," explained Marasigan.
La Viña, meanwhile, said safe elections could be possible for next year and that limited campaign rallies could be permitted as long as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) starts to craft the guidelines as early as now.
1Sambayan, launched in March this year, seeks to unify opposition parties in the 2022 national election.
It is led by key political figures and former senior government officials, including former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, former Carpio, and Del Rosario.
Meanwhile, various sectors showed their support to Robredo on Saturday during the launch of a movement that hopes to convince her to run for president.
“United for 2022: Launching of Team Leni Robredo” was held after Robredo was named one of the six nominees of 1Sambayan.
During the launching, representatives from various sectors -- youth, women, senior citizens, urban poor, farmers and fisher folk, health workers -- promised to fully support Robredo if she eyes the presidency.
Among those who performed during the launch were Gracenote, Moonstar88, Banda ni Kleggy, Audie Gemora, Ebe Dancel, 6cyclemind, Juris, Taumbayan’s All Star Cast and Bituin Escalante.
The event was capped Robredo’s message in reaction to the nomination of 1Sambayan. — With a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, Jamaine Punzalan, Jeffrey Hernaez and Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News