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Former and current senators, Duterte men dominate early Senate bet lists
This file photo shows the Senate building in Pasay City.
Official Gazette, file

Former and current senators, Duterte men dominate early Senate bet lists

Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - July 22, 2021 - 1:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — A little over nine months out from the 2022 elections and the field of potential candidates to the Senate seems filled with current and former senators as well as members of the Duterte Cabinet  

Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who have indicated they will be running for president and for vice president, have released to the media a working list of ten that primarily includes former and sitting senators. 

Former members of the Senate have the advantage of name recall while incumbents have the opportunity to use hearings and sessions to push their advocacies and to raise their profile. 

President Rodrigo Duterte's supposed slate of 16 senatorial bets — for 12 seats at the Senate — disclosed by an official of the ruling PDP-Laban to CNN Philippines includes several members of his Cabinet, celebrities and a media personality. Duterte's spokesman on Wednesday said he could not confirm the list. 

Duterte has been publicly toying with the idea of running for vice president for weeks. Last Saturday, he said he would do it to gain immunity from suit, an assumption not supported by jurisprudence.

Candidates on the administration slate have historically had the advantage of government campaign infrastructure — including state-run media — to boost their chances of electoral success. Endorsement, especially by a popular sitting president like Duterte, will also likely prove to be an advantage for them.

Overlapping entries   

There are four possible senatorial bets being considered by both Duterte and the Lacson-Sotto tandem. All of them have either previously served or are currently serving in the Senate. 

They are: 

  • Former Sen. Joeph Victor (JV) Ejercito 
  • Information and Communications Technology Sec. Gregorio Honasan 
  • Deputy House Speaker Loren Legarda (Antique) 
  • Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri 

Ejercito is the son of former President Joseph Estrada, who was ousted in the Edsa Dos protests in 2001. He served in the Senate from 2013-2019. He also represented San Juan at the lower house from 2010 to 2013 and served as the city's mayor for nine years before that. 

Honasan was a military officer in the Marcos regime and participated in coups against President Corazon Aquino during her presidency.  He was first elected to the Senate in 1995 and was elected again in 2001 and in 2007. 

Legarda, currently a member of the House, served three terms in the Senate and is the only woman to have been elected majority floor leader. 

Zubiri has served as the Senate's majority leader since 2016. He was first elected to the Senate from 2007 to 2011 and represented the 3rd District of Bukidnon at the lower house from 1998 to 2007. 

He resigned from the Senate in August 2011, shortly before the Senate Electoral Tribunal ruled that Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III was the 12th winning senatorial candidate in the 2007 elections.  

Prospective Lacson-Sotto slate

Aside from the three prospective candidates that they have in common with the supposed PDP-Laban slate, the Lacson-Sotto tandem also listed the following: 

  • Sorsogon Gov. Francis "Chiz" Escudero (also a former senator) 
  • Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian 
  • Former Commission on Elections Commissioner Goyo Larrazabal
  • Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez (Leyte 4th District)
  • Sen. Joel Villanueva 

Prospective Duterte slate 

Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone, PDP-Laban vice president for the Visayas, disclosed President Duterte's working list of senatorial bets to CNN Philippines on Tuesday. 

“That's his personal list. Based on his consultations with several leaders and personalities,” Evardone said, adding that Duterte is still in the process of finalizing the list ahead of the ruling party's national congress in September. 

Here are the 13 remaining names listed by the PDP-Laban official: 

  • Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos (former mayor and representative of Mandaluyong) 
  • Presidential Communications Operations Office Martin Andanar 
  • Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Greco Belgica
  • Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III 
  • Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (former representative of Davao City 1st district from 2010-2018) 
  • Robin Padilla (Actor)
  • Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (former presidential spokesman) 
  • Willie Revillame (TV host)
  • Presidential spokesman Harry Roque (former representative of the Kabayan Partylist from 2016-2017) 
  • Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade 
  • Raffy Tulfo (columnist)
  • Public Works and Highways Sec. Mark Villar (former representative of Las Piñas from 2010-2016) 

Opposition so far fielding re-electionists

Sen. Leila De Lima, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, and who has been detained on drug charges for years, indicated Wednesday that she plans to seek re-election. The senator, who has been behind bars for most of her term, has mainly been communicating through hand-written dispatches from her cell at the Philippine National Police custodial center in Quezon City.

De Lima has been the subject of verbal attacks from Duterte and his supporters as well as on social media. Her detention would make it more difficult for her to mount an election campaign even if pandemic restrictions were not in place.

Sens. Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan, members of the Senate minority bloc, have also previously confirmed that they will be seeking reelection in 2022.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier this month ruled out seeking the presidency and said he will likely retire after his term expires next year. 

An alliance of labor and workers' groups fielded their own senatorial slate in the 2019 elections. The Labor Win alliance endorsed lawyer and Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula; lawyer and National Confederation of Labor president Ernesto Arellano; Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino chairman Leody de Guzman, ex-Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares; and international secretary of the Federation of Free Workers and lawyer Allan Montaño as candidates to the Senate.

The slate, whose candidates did not manage to win seats, said it was meant to be a "third pole to the tyrannical Duterte regime and the ‘yellow’ elite opposition."

They said then that "a choice for the lesser evil between elite-dominated parties such as the Hugpong and the Liberal Party is to choose for death by hanging or by arsenic."

2022 ELECTIONS NPC PANFILO LACSON PDP-LABAN RODRIGO DUTERTE SENATE VICENTE SOTTO III
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