Familiar faces, comeback bids, tempered goals, surprise moves
Sen. Manny Pacquiao pulled off a few surprises when he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) on Friday as the standard-bearer of a moribund Cebu-based political party, apparently to skirt a possible legal challenge to his presidential bid.
Like in his many stellar boxing fights, Pacquiao made a surprise move by listing down Promdi, or Probinsya Muna Development Initiative, a party founded by the late Cebu Gov. Lito Osmeña for his failed presidential run in 1998, as his political vehicle for the May 2022 elections when he submitted his COC at the makeshift filing venue of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.
The senator also took many by surprise with his decision to pick former Manila Mayor and incumbent Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza as his running mate.
“He has more than 50 years of experience in public service and I have seen his sincerity and expertise in helping our country,” he said of Atienza, who joined Pacquiao in submitting his COC wearing his signature floral shirt.
Pacquiao was the first presidential candidate to file his COC, arriving at the venue around 9 a.m. accompanied by his wife, Jinkee, and some of his supporters.
But the international boxing legend quickly clarified that he was not abandoning the endorsement of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) faction that he and Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III headed.
Pacquiao, who announced his retirement from boxing on Wednesday to vie for the highest post in the land, was declared the standard-bearer of his PDP-Laban faction during a national assembly on Sept. 19.
“Because we have a problem in our party PDP-Laban, we agreed to use the Cona of Promdi,” Pacquiao said, referring to the certificate of nomination and acceptance, one of the requirements for those seeking elective seats.
Asked if he was already yielding the fight to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Pacquiao said: “No. PDP-Laban, Promdi and PCM has an alliance. Those are three ‘Ps’ that’s why we call it ‘MP3.’”
PCM refers to the People’s Champ Movement, a local party based in Pacquiao’s hometown of General Santos City that he had founded in 2009 for his congressional bid then.
Pacquiao, who has vowed to knock out corruption, has been at odds with the other PDP-Laban faction of Cusi which has nominated Sen. Bong Go and Mr. Duterte as the presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively. President Duterte has signed his Cona but has yet to file his COC.
Pacquiao and Atienza were among the early birds who formalized their intention to vie for the more than 18,000 elective offices that were up for grabs in next year’s national and local elections.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said a total of six individuals turned in their COCs for president, three for vice president and 14 for senator, among them reelectionist Sen. Risa Hontiveros, on the first day of the weeklong filing of election documents.
He said 18 groups had also submitted their COCs for the party list elections.
House Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda was the first to file her COC for a national position as she tries to mount a comeback to the Senate after previously serving three six-year terms as senator.
Legarda vowed to continue advocating for more jobs and livelihood, quality education, efficient health-care system, stronger environmental protection and cultural preservation.
“Our pandemic recovery should respond to the health needs of our people and on our economic recovery and should be attuned to the climate pathway as we are also dealing with the climate crisis,” she said.
For his part, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda filed his COC in Albay to seek a second term.
“I offer to lead you and work with everyone on an economic plan that would mightily push 2DAlbay into a quantum leap into the future that makes prosperity inevitable and a more equal society irreversible as the legacy of collective effort,’’ Salceda, an economist, said in a Facebook post on Friday.
Party list race
Kabayan party list also filed its Cona with the Comelec on Friday. Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo and Dr. Jonathan David Flavier, son of the late health secretary and former Sen. Juan Flavier, are the first two nominees with Bishop Paul Hernandez, Dr. Richard Mata and Noemie Bustamante as other nominees.
Ang Probinsyano Party List also made its bid for a second term in the House after filing its COC with Rep. Alfred delos Santos, Carolyn Lapid, Edward Delos Santos, Michael Chua and Jay Dela Cuesta as its nominees.
Former Speaker and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano announced on Friday that he won’t be running for president after all, as doing so would only divide the COVID-19 hit nation further.
“I really feel that if I run for President, it will be more divisive than unifying … We did our best together with the family and close supporters. But I will not be running for president of the Republic of the Philippines in 2022,” he said on Friday.
Cayetano did not say if he would run for a higher position or would seek reelection.
Meanwhile, Jimenez thanked the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for helping the Comelec implement strict health protocols in all filing centers.
“Overall, the first day of filing has been very peaceful and organized,” Jimenez said at a news briefing. “From the regional offices, no untoward incident has been reported … These offices were able to function very smoothly.”
The Comelec had earlier imposed a limitation in the number of individuals who may join the candidates in filing their COCs, prohibiting the traditional fiesta-like atmosphere that kicks off the country’s election season.
Jimenez said the relatively low turnout of filers on the first day was expected and had nothing to do with any concern related to COVID-19.
“Most of the candidates tend to cluster at the end of the [filing] period and this is especially true now that the end of the period is actually Oct. 7 and 8, both of which are numbers that look fairly auspicious,” he said. “We feel that that is really a bigger factor than COVID-19.”