Santiago warns ‘common candidates’: Watch your backBy Norman Bordadora, Gil C. Cabacungan and Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The phenomenon of the administration coalition and the nominally oppositionist United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) fielding common candidates is an indication of the public’s low estimation of today’s crop of politicians, according to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
It could indicate that the public believes that “the present crop of candidates does not live up to the expectations of the electorate, such as academic and professional excellence,” Santiago said.
The senator said that nowadays multiterm senators are seen as “overstaying” while the younger senators are perceived to be “immature or incompetent.”
“This gap between political generations seems to be the product of social media, which is now filtering down to the masses. People are no longer content with the old, but are not impressed by the young,” Santiago said.
Surveys rule campaign
Common candidates could also be an indication that the surveys rule the campaign, Santiago said.
“If a senatoriable does not rank high in the surveys, he is likely to be dropped and replaced with someone who is among the top 12 candidates,” she said.
The senator warned the common candidates of the UNA and the Liberal Party-led administration coalition against expecting too much from their inclusion in the two tickets as they might end up with no support at all.
“In every election, the basic problem is how to convince every senator on the ticket to campaign for the whole ticket. Usually, a senatoriable ends up campaigning only for himself or his special friends,” said Santiago, who was a common candidate of not just two but three parties when she ran for reelection in 2010.
The usual reaction of other candidates is “envy and suspicion” if a senator on one ticket is adopted as a common candidate by the other ticket, she said.
Those who are expected to be named as common candidates of the LP coalition and the UNA are reelectionist Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda, and Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares.
Legarda has reportedly accepted the invitation of President Aquino to join the administration senatorial slate for 2013.
Legarda, a candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), thus completes the ticket of the Liberal Party (LP)-led coalition, said a Palace official who was present when Mr. Aquino met Legarda in the Palace on Thursday.
Legarda’s inclusion in the unified ticket of the LP, NPC, Nacionalista Party and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) was confirmed by Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, a senatorial candidate of LDP.
“I heard Loren has confirmed (her inclusion in the LP slate),” said the lawmaker in a text message.
Legarda will share the same political stage with reelectionist Senators Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV, Koko Pimentel, Representative Angara, former Representatives Cynthia Villar and Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, former Senators Jun Magsaysay and Jamby Madrigal, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino.
All 12 candidates will be presented to the public at noon on Monday at Club Filipino by the President no less, before filing their certificates of candidacy at the Commission on Elections.
Legarda stopped short of confirming this when contacted by phone late last night, hinting that the President would be making the announcement on Monday.
Legarda earlier this week announced that she had accepted the draft by the UNA to be a guest candidate.
Clashes in LP coalition
Instead of an orderly campaign for national and local offices, the months of negotiations among the LP, the NPC and the Nacionalista Party (NP) have led only to the very real possibility of clashes between members of the coalition.
Disarray, especially in battleground provinces, could result in the victory of opposition candidates, weakening the administration’s dominance in the House of Representatives and in the local governments.
The LP, NP and NPC had been negotiating since May to form what House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. called a “coalition of giants.”
The three-cornered coalition would have not only a common senatorial slate but would also enforce the “equity of the incumbent” rule, under which the priority of sitting officials would be respected by the partners.
But with only a day to go before politicians file their candidacy papers, there is no way for the three parties to get together and choose sure winners to field as common candidates.
NP Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla of Cavite said he does not expect things to be as “heated” as 2004.
Aside from Cavite, Remulla expects the NP to square off with the LP on the Zamboanga peninsula, Davao del Sur and Iloilo, all electoral battlegrounds that the administration needs to secure for political dominance.
NPC candidates are likely to clash with the LP in the battleground provinces of Pangasinan, Rizal and Negros Oriental.
Last week, NPC chair emeritus Eduardo Cojuangco announced that the party had downgraded its role in the coalition from ally to mere partner with the adoption of free zones where any party could challenge the incumbent.