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'Pro-democracy' coalition to vet slate of opposition candidates for 2022

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
'Pro-democracy' coalition to vet slate of opposition candidates for 2022
Conveners of 1Sambayan, a coalition looking to endorse a unified slate of opposition candidates for 2022, hold a hybrid media event on March 18, 2021.
Screen grab 1Sambayan Youtube page

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:24 p.m.) — A coalition led by retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio is looking to unify democratic forces in the Philippines ahead of the 2022 polls.

To avoid the splitting of votes in the upcoming elections, conveners of 1Sambayan will field and endorse a unified slate of opposition candidates, they said during the coalition's media launch held Thursday. The slate will include a bet for president, for vice president, and candidates for the Senate.

"The Filipino people deserve a better government," Carpio said, as he criticized the Duterte administration as having been tried and tested and proven incompetent.

"There are Filipino leaders who can do a much better job of running the government, reviving the economy, creating jobs for our people, and defending our territory and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea."

"We in the 1Sambayan will search for these Filipino leaders, unite them into one national slate and present the Filipino people with a clear choice in the May 2022 national elections."

A coalition of opposition bets, the Otso Diretso, was trounced in the 2019 midterm elections. A separate slate of five pro-labor candidates backed by workers' unions was also defeated.

RELATED: Who is the Labor Win Alliance?

Criteria for common slate

In a video presented to reporters, the coalition said its criteria for choosing candidates to be endorsed are the following: a clean track record, upright stances on important issues, platform, and competence.

Carpio emphasized that members of 1Sambayan place themselves across the country's political spectrum, from the progressive members of Bayan Muna on the left to retired members of the military from the Magdalo party on the right.

The coalition is eyeing Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Grace Poe, Sen. Nancy Binay, Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno, and former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV as presidential and vice-presidential bets — all of whom have yet to announce their candidacy for 2022.

These are the other conveners for 1Sambayan:

  • Retired Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales
  • Former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario
  • Former Education Secretary Armin Luistro
  • Jesuit priest Albert Alejo
  • Retired Rear Admiral Rommel Ong
  • Lawyer Howard Calleja
  • Former Rep. Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna)
  • Former Negros Occidental Governor Rafael Coscolluela
  • Former Commission on Audit commissioner Heidi Mendoza
  • Partido Manggagawa chair Renato Magtubo
  • Rickie Xavier

'Too early' for politics, Palace says as Duterte teases longtime aide's candidacy

When asked about the coalition later Thursday, Malacañang said it was too early to be discussing elections. 

"Let's set aside politics while there's a pandemic," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in Filipino during a virtual briefing. 

But Duterte, in recent speeches, has teased the presidential candidacy of his long-time aide Sen. Bong Go.

Some members of his party, the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino—Lakas ng Bayan, are also calling on Duterte to run as Go's vice president. 

Go, for his part, has released statements claiming disinterest in vying for a top post in 2022, reminiscent of when Duterte himself used to hold press conferences to deny that he was running for president — only to file his candidacy at the last hour. 

Duterte's daughter, Sara, who currently sits as Davao City mayor, is also being urged to run for the presidential spot by administration supporters. 

Meanwhile, Robredo's spokesman Barry Gutierrez said that while the vice president is focused on helping Filipinos whoa are struggling against the COVID-19 pandemic, she is "honored to be considered as a possible consensus candidate." 

"We respect the independent process being conducted by 1Sambayan, and hope that it will truly result in a greater degree of unity among democratic constituencies moving forward to 2022."

— with a report from Kristine Joy Patag and Xave Gregorio 

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