Movie, TV stars enhance festive mood at Comelec
THE MAGIC of star power in the Senate derby added to the festive atmosphere at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila on Wednesday, the third day of filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the elections in May.
Megastar Sharon Cuneta accompanied her husband, former Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, who officially entered the Senate race under the Liberal Party (LP).
In his remarks to reporters, Pangilinan vowed to continue his support for the country’s agricultural sector if he would be elected to the Senate anew.
The former senator, who was appointed last year by President Aquino as presidential assistant on food security and agricultural modernization, said the high price of food commodities and widespread poverty among farmers reflected the lack of support for agriculture.
“I believe that the goals we have started working on in the agriculture sector must be continued,” Pangilinan said.
“There is a need for more farm jobs to fight poverty particularly in the provinces. The key to eradicating poverty and the high price of commodities is to augment support for farmers,” he said.
Former Pampanga Gov. Mark Lapid, who is eyeing a Senate seat, also under the LP, was accompanied by his father, actor-turned-politician Sen. Lito Lapid, and his wife, actress Tanya Garcia.
“Like my father, I also have the heart to serve the masses,” Lapid said, adding that he intended to focus on crafting laws that sought to promote and develop tourism in the country, generate jobs for Filipinos and empower the youth.
Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, who is running for senator as an independent, was accompanied by his wife, TV personality and former Valenzuela City Councilor Shalani Soledad, and his father, former Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo.
Romulo said he sought to create a “strong middle class.”
“For that to happen, two things are necessary—education to ensure that more Filipinos will enter and finish college, and secondly, we will continue the fight to lower the taxes of middle and low income earners,” he said.
Former Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri made official his bid for a Senate seat. “As an independent candidate, I am absolutely convinced that I will be able to humbly serve our people better in the Senate. The Filipino family and the people will be my party,” said Zubiri, who was accompanied by his wife, Audrey.
“I want to thank Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero because they adopted me in their group,” Zubiri said, adding that he would also welcome any invitation from other political parties. However, he said he had not decided on the presidential candidate he would support.
Zubiri was elected to the Senate in the May 2007 elections but resigned in 2011 amid fraud allegations in the balloting.
“I focused on running my business and living as a private citizen who had no plans of returning to politics. But recent senatorial surveys have shown my name consistently included in the top 12,” he said.
Never say die
Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros was at the Comelec Wednesday for her third attempt to land a Senate seat. She placed 13th in the elections in 2010 and 17th in 2013.
“Recent results of surveys continue to give me that hope. I am within striking distance of the magic 12,” she said. “I am confident, this time, we will win,” said Hontiveros. “We will keep on pounding that glass ceiling.”
Actress Alma Moreno, who was earlier named among the senatorial candidates under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), was accompanied by her children, including actors Vandolph and Wynwyn Marquez.
Princess Jacel Kiram, daughter of the late sultan of Sulu, who belongs to the senatorial lineup of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s UNA party, said she would be focusing her agenda on reclaiming of the Sabah Island from Malaysia.
Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III also filed for reelection under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). He was joined by his wife, actress Helen Gamboa, and colleague, Sen. Gringo Honasan, UNA’s vice presidential candidate.
Sotto said the NPC had yet to determine which tandem to support in 2016. But he said he was supporting Poe for President. He said he had talked with Escudero about his “obvious” support for Honasan.
Another NPC candidate, Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, also submitted his COC for senator Wednesday afternoon.
The presence of Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos elicited shrieks from supporters and government employees. She accompanied her husband, Sen. Ralph Recto, who filed his candidacy for reelection. In his speech, Recto outlined his legislative agenda, including free public education, skills training and universal healthcare.
Former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino, who is running as an independent senatorial aspirant, turned in his COC. He believes that he still enjoys the confidence of President Aquino despite getting embroiled in a controversy involving sexy dancers “Playgirls.”
“When I resigned, the President issued a statement expressing gratitude and full support,” Tolentino told reporters.
“It is all over. I already issued an apology. I even asked my name to be delisted from the LP senatorial slate. I even asked that I be considered resigned effective immediately… We move forward. I’d like to talk substance,” he said.
“I’d like to talk on problems of urbanization. I’d like to talk on how to upgrade and improve the local government code. I’d like to talk about public international law and how it will affect the issues concerning Spratlys and the West Philippine Sea. I’d like to talk about that,” he added.
Senate President Franklin Drilon’s COC was filed on his behalf by his brother Cesar, saying the senator had to attend a convention.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV vowed to continue the fight of his Magdalo group if he is elected Vice President in the 2016 elections. He was accompanied by his wife Arlene and Magdalo members when he filed his COC.
“We will continue what we began in 2003. They were imprisoned along with me. We will continue the fight,” he said, referring to the Oakwood mutiny that he and his group staged on July 27, 2003, in Makati City against alleged corruption under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Former top Philippine National Police official Romeo Maganto is also aspiring for a Senate seat under the Lakas-CMD Party. “I’m retired but not expired. I’m ready to serve,” he told reporters.
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