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1Sambayan open to Trillanes candidacy

By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 05:42 AM May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Newly formed coalition 1Sambayan said former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV was already among its possible candidates for a national post, including the presidency, in the 2022 elections, along with Vice President Leni Robredo.

“On June 12, the process of selection will be revealed and we will invite our members, allied groups, and patriotic Filipinos to join and participate in this process,” the group said in a statement on Thursday.

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Launched last month, 1Sambayan is composed of former government officials and members of civil society organizations who had vowed to put up a “single, united democratic slate” for next year’s elections and rally Filipinos to “block the continuation of a dictatorial and authoritarian administration.”

Trillanes earlier announced that he was ready to become the opposition’s standard-bearer in the event Robredo runs for Camarines Sur governor.

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From an alternate, the former senator said he wanted to be considered a principal candidate.

Principal vs alternate bet

But lawyer Howard Calleja, 1Sambayan co-convener, clarified that the coalition does not make any distinction between “principal” or “alternate” candidates.

“[There’s] no distinction as both Trillanes and VP Leni are being considered for (President) and (Vice President) in the coalition. Thus, there is no major change in the selection process,” he said in a Viber message to the Inquirer.

According to Calleja, Trillanes met with retired Supreme Court Associate Justice and 1Sambayan lead convener Antonio Carpio on Wednesday to discuss his request to be included in the selection process for the coalition’s slate.

In a phone interview, Trillanes also clarified reports that Robredo had contradicted his assertion that she was eyeing a local post next year instead of the presidency.

“I believe my statement was not read in its proper context because I never said VP Leni was running for governor; what I said was I was offering myself as a candidate ‘in view of her preparations to run for governor,’” he said.

Trillanes cited reports that Robredo signed up last week for the Philippine Identification System in Magarao town instead of Naga City, where she is a registered voter. As Naga City is a chartered city, its residents cannot vote or run for provincial posts.

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Her move fueled speculations that she could be eyeing the governorship of Camarines Sur because, in a previous interview, she told reporters that if it were up to her, she would prefer a local post.

“This [move] was conscious or deliberate on her part because she transferred her residence to meet the one-year deadline for residency requirement,” Trillanes said.

He reiterated his pledge that should Robredo decide to vie for the presidency, he would “wholeheartedly” step aside in her favor.

“[Robredo and I] have been talking, and I’m sure [her spokesperson] attorney [Barry] Gutierrez did not consult with his principal, because to me it’s clear, we are not doing this to divide the opposition,” he said.

“We are just making sure that we will not lose by default,” he added.

Trillanes against Isko

In an interview over ANC, Trillanes said he decided to offer himself to 1Sambayan following the first round of interviews conducted by the group to prequalify its nominees, which included himself, Senators Grace Poe and Nancy Binay, and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.

“I think Senators Poe and Binay both … declined, which leaves only VP Leni and Mayor Isko. If VP Leni decides not to run, then, by default, that position would go to Mayor Isko Moreno,” he said.

This, Trillanes pointed out, would deprive the “true opposition” of representation in the coalition’s selection process.

Referring to Domagoso as a “Johnny-come-lately” member of the opposition, he said the Manila mayor was being “opportunistic because of the changing political tides, suddenly shifting alignments.”

“The thing is that he has yet to break away even from President Duterte, and in fact, they are openly courting the endorsement of Mr. Duterte for 2022,” Trillanes said, adding that until Domagoso “genuinely breaks away” from the President, he could not be considered by 1Sambayan.

For him, corruption in the government would continue to be the top issue for voters in the 2022 presidential elections, since it was the root of the most pressing problems the country was facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trillanes said the opposition would communicate to the people how corruption had affected their lives, now made worse by the effects of the health crisis.

“Many Filipinos have lost their jobs, are going hungry because of the mishandling of COVID response. That remains the gut issue but at the center of all these is still corruption, partly because of mishandling, because people are trying to make money even in the vaccination process, [the purchase of] medical equipment, the issue on (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.), even the distribution of cash aid,” he added.

Palace reaction

Asked to react to Trillanes’ bid for the presidency, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said, “Dreams are free so let us allow [him] to dream of becoming president. That is his right as a Filipino.”

But Roque also noted that Robredo could still be in the running for the presidency next year, and this could lead to Trillanes not pushing through with his plan. He added that the former senator was just all talk when it came to his threat to file a case against President Rodrigo Duterte for killings committed during his administration.

—WITH A REPORT FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA

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TAGS: 1Sambayan, 2022 elections, Antonio Trillanes IV, opposition, Politics
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