10 senatorial bets on Marcos-Duterte's slate

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
10 senatorial bets on Marcos-Duterte's slate
This photo shows the ten aspirants on the UniTeam's senatotrial slate.
Philstar.com composite photo

MANILA, Philippines — The tandem of presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte will be backing the candidacy of at least ten senatorial aspirants.

On Thursday, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ spokesperson, named the “partial list” of senatorial bets in the 2022 elections. It is unclear if the UniTeam will later expand its senatorial slate to add more candidates.

“The list represents a mixture of seasoned and proven political personalities who have excelled in their respective endeavors, according to Rodriguez,” Rodriguez added.

They are:

Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip party-list)

  • The UniTeam named the House lawmaker, a member of the influential Iglesia ni Cristo church, as its first pick. “He was widely known for slashing the budget of the Commission on Human Rights to P1,000 in 2017,” the UniTeam’s statement read.
  • Marcoleta is also known for distributing anti-parasitic drug ivermectin despite warnings that there is not enough evidence to support its use to prevent or treat COVID-19.
  • He is also among the lawmakers who pounded on ABS-CBN in the legislative hearing for their franchise, which the network giant eventually lost that resulted in loss of thousands of jobs.

Lawyer Larry Gadon

  • Although the statement said Gadon is a law practitioner, he was preventively suspended by the Supreme Court in January and is at risk of getting disbarred over a profanity-laced video directed at journalist Raissa Robles — the latest in a list of controversies he has figured in.
  • The UniTeam added that Gadon “had been helping [Marcos] team for years and has slowly climbed the senatorial survey just a few notches from the top 12.”
  • Gadon was also in news for cursing at supporters of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and calling them stupid. When he ran in the 2016 polls for a senate seat, he said that if members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front — a rebel group the government had already signed a peace agreement with — do not want peace, he will "kill them all and burn all their houses."

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri

  • The reelectionist’s addition to the slate “has bolstered the unity ticket’s already sturdy position in Mindanao, which is his family’s bailiwick,” the UniTeam said.
  • This is Zubiri’s fourth inclusion in a Senate slate. Although running as independent bet, he is also on the senatorial slate of Vice President Leni Robredo — Marcos’ rival; has been adopted by the slate of Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson; and has the support of the PDP-Laban wing led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao. 
  • He first came to the senate in 2009 but resigned in 2011 amid allegations of electoral fraud. Before that, he served three terms as congressman of Bukidnon, succeeding his father Jose Maria Zubiri Jr., who is now governor of the province. 

Former Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar

  • The scion of the rich and politically powerful Villar clan got the endorsement of Marcos and Duterte, also descendants of political families, in an announcement made in December.
  • Should he get elected, the younger Villar will be joining his mother in the Senate, who emerged as the frontrunner in the 2019 senatorial race.

Rep. Loren Legarda (Antique)

  • Legarda is eyeing a return at the Senate. During her filing of certificate of candidacy, she said that with her “vast experience as a former majority leader, as a senator for three terms” where she crafted laws to help the people, she can give more especially during the pandemic.
  • Prior to becoming a House deputy speaker, Legarda had chaired the finance, foreign relations, economic affairs, environment and climate change committees in the Senate.

Former Palace spokesperson Harry Roque

  • The former human rights lawyer said in December that only Marcos’ team wanted him. He earlier said he would only run if Duterte-Carpio guns for presidency. He has been present in most of the caravans of the UniTeam.
  • Roque was twice appointed as presidential spokesperson. He attempted to run as senator in 2019, but later withdrew and went back as Palace spokesperson.
  • He also failed to get a seat at the International Law Commission

Former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada: Estrada

  • He joined the UniTeam caravan in December where he said he will run under the Marcos-Duterte-Carpio slate.
  • During the event, Marcos noted Estrada’s record as a senator where he passed many laws. He added in Filipino: “Sadly, he earned the ire of our friend at the Malacañang earlier that’s why his career was derailed, but now, we will help each other to bring him back to the Senate to serve again.
  • It was unclear what Marcos was referring to, but Estrada was charged with plunder and graft cases related to the “pork barrel” scam in 2014, where he is accused of amassing P183 million worth of kickbacks by allocating portions of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus foundations. He was allowed to post bail in 2017, after three years of detention.

Former Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro

  • Teodoro is also a former Tarlac congressman who served as defense chief during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
  • He ran in the 2010 presidential elections but lost.
  • Duterte-Carpio endorsed Teodoro's bid as she expressed confidence he would win in the May elections.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

  • The reelectionist was first elected to the Senate in 2016, from being then-congressman of Valenzuela City. He sat as representative of the city from 2001 to 2004 and again in 2013 to 2016.
  • Between those years, he was the city mayor. His family has since held top posts in the city, with his brothers Wes and Rex seeking to switch posts next year as mayor and congressman, respectively. 
  • At the Senate, Gatchalian chairs the committee on education and the committee on energy.

Former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista

  • This is the first bid for a national post for the three-term mayor of the country’s most populous city. He was a local chief executive from 2010 and won reelections in 2013 and 2016.
  • Known in Philippine showbiz as “Bistek,” Bautista is also part of the slate of Lacson-Sotto tandem.

Marcos and Duterte-Carpio topped the latest Pulse Asia pre-elections survey in December 2020.

The lead up to the 2022 polls saw the formation of a coalition among the country’s biggest political clans: Estrada’s PMP, Marcos’ Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, Duterte-Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago and Macapagal-Arroyo’s Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats created an alliance to support the UniTeam’s bid.

Political scientists have called this alliance as “unholy,” and a bid to keep themselves in power. — with reports from Philstar.com/Xave Gregorio, Jonathan de Santos and Christian Deiparine

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