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Senatorial campaign 2019 kicks off - 2

Tumbas Manipis
by John A. Bello

It puzzles me that their number has reached 14 when there are supposedly only 12 senatorial seats available for contention in the midterm elections. Pres. Duterte has been singling out three among them as his most preferred bets: Of course, Bong Go and Bato dela Rosa, both you-know-who, and Francis Tolentino, his presidential adviser on political affairs and former Tagaytay city mayor and MMDA chairman. The rest are the candidates chosen by the presidential dawter who, if things go right and seamless with her father’s administration, she could very well be the next presidential successor in 2022.

Days before the campaign starts, Harry Roque, the former acerbic presidential spokesman, decided to quit the race citing medical condition and not, he said, anything about his poor poll survey standing by the Social Weather Station on senatorial candidates which shown him as very far from the winning circle.

And here are the candidates for the so-called TEAM PILIPINAS or OTSO DIRETSO sa SENADO who are, of course, allied with the Yellows, the Liberal Party and Vice Pres. Leny Robredo who, she said, will be campaigning for them in the whole duration of the election campaign period: Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, civic leader Samira Gutoc, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, former Interior Sec. Mar Roxas and former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada.

The OTSO DIRETSO also numbered below 12, only 8, and so, of course, it also puzzles me why. But, methinks, perhaps these two competing political groupings have both their political reasons not to field the exact number of candidates for the senatorial elections.

Outside these two major political parties or aggrupations are independent political candidates like incumbent senator Grace Poe, controversial lawyer Larry ‘Bobo’ Gadon who filed an impeachment complaint against ousted Supreme Court chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno; human rights lawyer and former Makabayan partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares, and labor leader Leody De Guzman, among others whom I happen to remember at the moment of my writing this Tumbas Manipis opinion column.

Actually, there are 62 registered senatorial candidates of the Comelec but only those belonging to Hugpong ng Pagbabago of Davao city mayor Sara Duterte and PDP-Laban of Pres. Duterte, which of course, is one and the same, and the opposition coalition Otso Diretso figure out in the political equation in the senatorial race. The others, never mind.

Recently, the Otso Diretso candidates have challenged their counterpart in Hugpong ng Pagbabago to a public debate at Plaza Miranda on Feb. 25 on Edsa Day celebration but the latter have seemingly turned tails and have been conspicuous in their absence when the day came.

LP senatorial bet, former deputy speaker and Quezon congressman Erin Tañada has singled out TRAIN law author, incumbent and reelectionist senator Sonny Angara for a debate but the latter declined and stated that he is only available at the Senate session hall itself after the elections and told the former that his debate challenge should not be made ‘at my expense’. So there.

It seems that the HP group is rather shy for any public debate even if the OD group has been issuing a challenge to go for it for the awareness and enlightenment of the public on various issues of the nation.

Public debate is important so that the sovereign voters would have their basis on who are best qualified to be in the Upper House who should manifest independence, courage and brilliance in behalf of their national constituency unlike members of the Lower House which have a narrower interest of their particular districts to consider.

Anyway, there are still many political twists and turns enroute to the election day and the conscious voters should keep their eyes, ears and mind open for any eventualities and keep calm along the way of the democratic struggle in building our nation.

For anything newsworthy or writeable, email me at johnbello2017@gmail.com or tumbasmanipis@yahoo.com.ph