Leni's list final: No more additions, subtractions from Robredo senatorial slate

Leni's list final: No more additions, subtractions from Robredo senatorial slate
Supporters of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem and their senate slate conduct motorcade and noise barrage from the Municipality of La Trinidad to Baguio City in Benguet on February 8, 2022.
The STAR / Andy Zapata Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — No new names will be added and no names will be removed from Vice President Leni Robredo's Senate slate, she said Saturday night when asked whether human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares, a former party-list representative of Bayan Muna, might be included in her official slate.

Colmenares and the Makabayan bloc of party-lists at the House of Representatives have endorsed Robredo and her running mate Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan in the May elections. He and labor leader Elmer "Ka Bong" Labog of Kilusang Mayo Uno are in the opposition coalition 1Sambayan's senatorial ticket but not on Robredo's official one.

"Puno na kami. Puno na kami, meron kaming seven — meron kaming seven na candidates saka 'yung the rest of the slate, guest candidates. Walang gagalawin 'yon. Walang gagalawin doon," she said.

(We already have a full slate. We have seven candidates and the rest of the slate are guest candidates. We won't touch that anymore.)

Tension over endorsements

Robredo announced her Senate slate in October and Colmenares' exclusion led to a word war between former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV — of the Liberal Party and of the right-wing Magdalo group — and members of the Makabayan bloc over insinuations that the bloc was backing Manila Mayor Isko Moreno instead.

That tension spilled over to bickering online among supporters of either camp but Colmenares said that decisions on inclusion in the slate was Robredo's prerogative.

"So 'yung sa akin matagal na debate at diskusyon na 'yung ginawa bago namin in-announce 'yung dose. So 'yung lahat na considerations napag-usapan na," Robredo said Saturday night.

(So, my slate was subject to a lot of debate and discussion before we announced the 12. So, all of the considerations had already been discussed.)

Makabayan announced in January that it was supporting Robredo and Pangilinan in the elections. "Ako ay nananalig na sa ating pinagkaisang lakas, tayo ay magtatagumpay laban sa tambalan ng kadiliman na nais ipagpatuloy ang tiraniya at baluktot na pamamahala sa ating bansa," Colmenares, chairperson of Bayan Muna party-list, said then.

(I am confident that, with our combined strength, we will triumph over the the alliance of darkness that aims to perpetuate tyranny and crooked governance in our country.)

Makabayan's support for Robredo has led to intensified red-tagging of its members and accusations that Robredo was in an alliance with communist rebels, an allegation that her campaign has rejected.

A Cavite congressman claimed that students at a Robredo rally in the province "looked like activists", which he said was proof of the supposed alliance.

In a statement, Trillanes said that he has not seen any communists in the Robredo campaign. Communism, much less activism, is not illegal in the Philippines.

RELATED: As candidates clash over communist 'infiltration', activists report arrests in Cavite

Guest candidates 

Guest candidates — independents or those from other parties — are common in the Philippines, where membership in political parties is fluid and parties usually cannot field an entire 12-person slate for the Senate.

In some slates — like the tandem of Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III — candidates are allowed to attend other presidential campaign rallies but are expected to refrain from endorsing other bets.

RELATED: Lacson-Sotto drops Gatchalian from slate after attending rival proclamation rally

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who helped with negotiations on Robredo's slate, told guest candidates that "at the minimum, you would not endorse any candidate for president so that you will stay as a guest candidate of a number of parties and groupings."

The Robredo-Pangilinan slate is composed of Sens. Leila De Lima and Risa Hontiveros, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, lawyer Alex Lacson and labor leader Sonny Matula of the Federation of Free Workers.

Also on their slate are Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sens. Richard Gordon and Joel Villanueva, Sorsogon Gov. Francis "Chiz" Escudero and former Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Gordon has been appearing at Robredo-Pangilinan campaign rallies while Zubiri was a guest at the proclamation rally of the UniTeam of presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. — Jonathan de Santos

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