‘Brand’ names
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2018 - 12:00am

Around 180,000 or so Tom, Dick, and Harry submitted their individual certificates of candidacy (COCs) before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the coming May 2019 elections. The estimated total number of bets is just tentative as those COCs filed at the Comelec satellite offices across the country have yet to be officially transmitted to the head office of the poll body at Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila. 

At the end of the five-day period of filing the COCs at the Comelec, we have seen so far who are those aspiring to become the next Senators and members of the House of Representatives for the incoming 18th Congress as well as those eyeing various local government posts that are up for grabs. The biggest bulk of COCs consist of aspirants for Governors to Mayors down to councilors all over the Philippines.

While the Comelec has no intention to extend the deadline of filing of COCs, there is still the last chance for those who have yet to decide whether to run or not. This opportunity is for those reluctant, hesitant, or shall we say shrewd politicians who want to keep their rivals in the dark. This would be the coming Nov. 29 set by the Comelec for substitution of candidates. 

This is the final reckoning for those whose COCs were officially accredited by the Comelec but may decide at the last-minute to back out due to health or for other reasons that the poll body may find credible enough to approve the substitution. Remember how then former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte kept everyone guessing at the last moments if indeed he would run in the last May 2016 presidential elections.

That was the moment of fame – or infamy – of Martin Diño who filed the COC as presidential candidate of the PDP-Laban. Diño announced to media he filed his candidacy in behalf of Mayor Duterte who failed to submit his COC on the last day of filing the COC. Diño later withdrew in favor of the Davao City Mayor who filed as substitute candidate on Nov. 27, 2016.

It created quite a furor as it turned out Diño filed an erroneous COC for Mayor of Pasay City. The Comelec, however, subsequently ruled the substitution was valid. 

Majority of the candidates who have paraded before us were mostly belonging to the same, old political dynasties. Never mind the political parties they are currently affiliated with. They have been shifting anyway from one political party to another, or created new ones for themselves.

A case in point is no less than President Duterte’s daughter Mayor Sara who registered to the Comelec her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago into a regional political party where many politicians have gravitated or coalesced with for this coming election. Brother ex-vice mayor Paolo will run for Congress while youngest brother Sebastian will be Sara’s vice mayoral runningmate in Davao City.

In our country’s capital city, we have former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. The 82-year-old patriarch of the Estrada political clan is seeking his third and last term as Mayor of Manila. His two sons, re-electionist Senator JV Ejercito and ex-Senator Jinggoy Estrada who is making a comeback bid are running literally against each other.

The half-brothers have been at odds, politically and family-wise. Jinggoy is running under their father’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) while JV recently defected to the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) out of spite. The sibling rivalry reached to fore at the mock polls done by both the Social Weather Station (SWS) and the Pulse Asia. While Jinggoy consistently gets included in the “magic 12” of potential winners in the coming Senate race, JV continues to fare dismally, landing at the edges of the win circle.

Pollsters credit this much to name recall. Jinggoy was once an action star before he turned to politics when he first run and won as Mayor of San Juan in the same way their Estrada patriarch started his career in show business before successfully dabbling in politics. 

JV acknowledged, though reluctantly, Jinggoy enjoys the edge of using their father’s showbiz screen name Estrada. “It’s a brand name,” JV conceded. Using Ejercito – their father’s real surname – JV has not capitalized on it when he first run for the Senate six years ago. 

This time around, JV made sure voters would know he, too, is an Estrada that he now affixed in the COC he filed at the Comelec last Monday.  

Incidentally, Jinggoy’s eldest daughter, San Juan City Vice Mayor Janella Estrada is running as Mayor. She vies for the post of JV’s mother, outgoing San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez who is on her third and last term. Don’t forget Estrada’s nephew, ER Ejercito who is also making a comeback bid as Governor of Laguna. 

A similar sibling rivalry among the children of erstwhile Vice president Jejomar Binay is wracking this political dynasty in the city of Makati. Also having the same fight on who has the right over their brand name “Binay” are re-electionist Mayor Abby and comebacking Mayor Junjun. Mayor Abby’s edge is the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) certification that she is the mayoralty candidate of their father’s party. Another daughter, re-electionist Sen. Nancy is UNA bet for the Senate. 

In Taguig City, husband and wife Alan Peter and Lani Cayetano divide the city’s two congressional districts into their conjugal dynasty. Alan’s sister, Pia, is also making a comeback bid at the Senate.

Actually, even up to the eve of election day – or in this mid-term election on May 13 next year – our country’s Omnibus Election Code provides for substitution. This is in specific case of incapacity or death of the original candidate when a substitute candidate with the same surname or last name, is allowed to run instead since the same name is already in the printed ballot. 

This goes well for candidates who have “brand” names to speak of. This is where the brand” names in politics works to the best advantage for a newcomer. However, it also cuts both ways and may spell doom to one’s continuing his or her family’s political dynasty.

2019 MIDTERM ELECTIONS CERTIFICATES OF CANDIDACY COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
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