The low-key entry of four candidates of the administration’s Liberal Party in the Senate race and the last-minute registration of the 12th candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance on Friday brought to a close the week-long prelude to the 2013 midterm elections.
A total of 84 candidates registered for the 2013 senatorial election.
Liberal Party (LP) senatorial candidates Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, without the fanfare that marked the registration of other candidates for the Senate earlier in the week.
Nancy Binay, daughter of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) leader Vice President Jejomar Binay, filed her COC also without singing, dancing or clowning. She took the place of businessman Joey de Venecia, who backed out from the senatorial race on Monday.
Old-timers and dynasts
Most of the candidates are either old-timers or children of longtime political clans, who are carrying on the family tradition and in doing so have attracted widespread criticism of their roles as dynasts.
Magsaysay, who is coming out of retirement to try to serve again in the Senate, said he did not consider his family a political dynasty.
But another Magsaysay, Zambales Rep. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, is running for a seat in the Senate as an UNA candidate.
Mitos is the daughter-in-law of Magsaysay’s cousin, former Zambales Gov. Vicente Magsaysay.
“My family members are not running for anything; they are taking care of a dairy farm,” Magsaysay, who retired from the Senate in 2007, said. “We are not aggressive in politics.”
Politics is sacred
Magsaysay said politics was “sacred” to his family, and that’s the reason why not so many members are running for elective offices.
He said he had no problem with another Magsaysay running as his opponent, adding that it was President Aquino who persuaded him to come out of retirement and run as an administration candidate.
“So the insinuation that I came back to ensure that the other person (Mitos) [will lose] is baseless because we can both win, we can both lose, or she wins and I lose or she loses and I win,” Magsaysay said.
The 35-year-old Bam Aquino, a nephew of the President, offered another perspective on references to his family as a political dynasty.
“I’d like to think that instead of looking at us as a political dynasty, we are a family with a history of public service in our country,” Aquino said, adding that Filipino voters must not focus only on the surnames of candidates but also on their track record.
“In our case, we have a history of public service, which, in truth, I’ll be extremely proud to be part of,” he said.
His uncle had warned him that going into politics was difficult, but he said he was volunteering his services to represent the youth, Aquino said.
He went to Comelec headquarters to file his COC with Hontiveros, who nearly won the 12th Senate seat in the 2010 elections.
Cayetano, who also comes from a family of politicians, advised voters to scrutinize candidates based on their vision and track record.
“Don’t look at the trees, look at the forest… look at the individual. Does he have a vision or is he shortsighted? Is he a thief or is he for good governance?” Cayetano said.
For her part, Binay said the members of her family are in government because they have been elected by the people. “At the end of the day, we are elected by the people. We don’t appoint ourselves. We are subjecting ourselves to the electoral process,” she said.
Binay said she would rely on her family’s good name in campaigning for a seat in the Senate.
Binay has four children and worked for a foundation dedicated to children, an experience that, she said, now inspires her to introduce legislation for further protection of the rights and welfare of children. With a report from Jerome Aning