Water crisis on World Water Day
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2019 - 12:00am

Over the weekend, senatoriable Francis Tolentino visited us at the editorial office of The Philippine Star in Port Area, Manila feeling under the weather. As soon as he stepped into our office, Tolentino apologized for looking sick and coughing a bit. Despite needing to personally connect with his potential voters, Tolentino apologized for not offering to shake hands with us. So we did away with the usual formalities to avoid passing or transfer of virus.

Speaking of virus, I showed to Tolentino the latest negative campaign that is going viral, specifically attacking the various candidates like him. Making the rounds in social media is the campaign dubbed: “NO to BACTERIA and GERMS!!” It is an acronym of the first letters of the names of popular candidates but spared the opposition candidates.

The BACTERIA stood for the following candidates: B – Bato; A – Angara; C – Cayetano; T – Tolentino; E – Enrile; R – Revilla; I – Imee; A – Angara; The GERMS stood for:  G – Go; E – Estrada; R – Revilla; M – Marcos; S - Sara na walang “h” dahil hindi sya HONEST. (Obviously referring to presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who engaged the opposition in debate over “honesty” issue.)

In between coughs, Tolentino laughed off the negative campaign as indeed true in his present condition of carrying possible flu bacteria. The 59-year-old Tolentino considers himself immune to such negative campaign. After all, he had served as Tagaytay Mayor for three consecutive terms from 1995 to 2004.

Actually, Tolentino is originally from Guinobatan, Albay where he was born and raised. Running for the Senate for the second time, Tolentino hopes to succeed this time and noted he is the only senatorial candidate who hails from Bicol. 

Tolentino registered as official candidate of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) whose nominal chieftain is no less than President Rodrigo Duterte. He is one of the 12-man senatorial ticket backed by the ruling administration party. His Senate bid is also backed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago coalition which has 13 senatorial candidates in its ticket.

That’s where the potential problem lies in the Hugpong Senate ticket.

Since their names are arranged alphabetically, Tolentino is at 12th place. Naturally, it is still within the winning “magic circle” in the Senate race. Coming next or in the 13h place, by alphabet, is the name of re-electionist Senator Cynthia Villar.

Under the automated election system, voters can shade the circle before the name of each senatorial candidate in the ballot up to 12 names only. Voters can under vote but they can never vote more than 12. Otherwise, the entire votes for the Senators will be automatically voided by the vote counting machine.

Fortunately for Sen. Villar, she has been faring very high in mock polls at both the Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia. Villar comes out either No. 1 or No. 2 in voters’ preference if elections are held during the survey periods. So she need not worry much about being the 13th candidate in the Hugpong Senate ticket.

In the printed ballots of the Comelec, Tolentino is alphabetically assigned No. 60 while Villar is at 62. Feeling naughty, Tolentino related to us he once ribbed Villar about feeling lucky that his name is very close to her in the printed ballots, telling her: “Ma’m, pag Malabo mata ng voters mo, ang name ko will be shaded, sa akin mapupunta boto mo.”

Although Villar laughed about his good-natured joke, Tolentino feels guilty for causing undue worry to the good Senator. He overheard Sen. Villar telling her staff to make sure voters know her as candidate No. 62 in bold, enlarged script beside her name.

No less than President Duterte has been personally endorsing and is actively campaigning for “Tol,” or the campaign monicker of Tolentino under the “other name” he submitted in his certificate of candidacy (COC) filed at the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

This rendered his election protest against Sen. Leila de Lima as automatically withdrawn at the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET). Running before as “independent” candidate, Tolentino lost the May 2016 Senate race to De Lima, one of the Liberal Party (LP) senatorial candidates then. De Lima, however, currently languishes in detention at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame while undergoing the illegal drugs conspiracy and other criminal charges pending before different regional trial courts.

Tolentino placed 13th during the last Senate race in May 2016, next to De Lima. Per Comelec official count, De Lima won 14,144,070 votes as against Tolentino’s 12,811,098 votes. Or, there were more than 1.3 million margin of votes won by De Lima over Tolentino which he disputed as historically impossible.

Tolentino strongly hopes the “dual endorsement” by President Duterte and his daughter Mayor Sara are his strongest suits to finally clinch his Senate bid. In fact, he noted with optimism the latest results of the SWS and Pulse Asia surveys showed he has moved up to 11th place of voters’ preferred candidate.

With the 90-day campaign period already on half-way mark, Tolentino conceded he still has to continue to strive harder to get across his message to voters. With his experience as former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman, Tolentino believes on the need for Congress to pass a law to elect a Metro Manila Governor and make the 17 Metro Manila Mayors as Vice Governor on rotation basis.

He also vows to amend the 1991 Local Government Code to “overhaul” it to empower more the local government units (LGUs) rather than have these LGUs rely for help from the national government. Thus, he supports federalism proposal.

As early as December last year, Tolentino recalled his warning about the looming water supply shortage in Metro Manila. This is why the creation of a Department of Water Management will be one of the first bills he would author.

Sadly, Tolentino rued, his alarm bells were ignored. Sadder still, he added, we still suffer water shortage as the United Nations’ World Water Day last March 22 went by unnoticed.

WATER CRISIS WORLD WATER DAY
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