By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter
PREPARATIONS for next year’s midterm elections are underway a week before the deadline period for the filing of candidacies.
Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III, president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban, said the party has trimmed down its list of potential candidates to five or six from the previous 24. However, he did not say if the party could complete a 12-member senatorial slate.
Initial names in the PDP-Laban senatorial slate included the reelectionist senators, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence T. Go, presidential political adviser Francis N. Tolentino, Bureau of Corrections chief Ronald M. Dela Rosa, Maguindanao Rep. Zajid G. Mangudadatu, Bataan Rep. Geraldine B. Roman, Makati City Rep. Monsour T. Del Rosario III, singer Freddie Aguilar, Negros Occidental Alfredo B. Benitez, and broadcaster Jiggy Manicad, among others.
Mr. Pimentel also said Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles has backed out of plans to run for senator, while Quirino Rep. Dakila E. Cua now plans to run for governor.
“We will announce next week who remained in the list,” he told reporters after a legislative hearing.
In the Liberal Party, Senator and party president Francis N. Pangilinan said they are still finalizing the list of candidates under their senatorial slate. He said the list had been brought down from 18 to 15 names. Candidates under the opposition slate would need to sign a pledge and commitment to defend democracy and human rights, Mr. Pangilinan said.
“We are still finalizing it but definitely (the commitment) will be issue-based, human rights, defending our democracy, commitment to the upliftment of our citizen on the discussion on inflation,” the senator said.
The opposition party has so far announced three names among its official candidates, reelectionist Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV, De La Salle University College of law dean Jose Manuel “Chel” I. Diokno, and Quezon City Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tanada III.
The LP has also allied with different political parties, civil society groups and organizations, such as the Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party, Magdalo party-list, Aksyon Demokratiko, and Tindig Pilipinas, according to the senator.
Presidential spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr., during Thursday’s Malacañang briefing, declined to comment on whether he will throw his hat in the senatorial arena. But Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar said Mr. Roque will surely run.
“I think it is possible that six to eight (Cabinet members) will step down because a lot of them plan to run for local positions….But right now, Secretary Roque will surely run for senator, but let’s see if there are colleagues who are urging Secretary Roque not to run because he is needed in Communications,” Mr. Andanar said in a television interview.
Without naming names, Mr. Roque said six Cabinet members have expressed their plans to seek elective posts.
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, senior adviser of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), told reporters that former senator Lito M. Lapid and his son Mark T. Lapid took their oaths as members of the NPC. Mr. Sotto said the older Mr. Lapid plans to return to the Senate, while the younger Mr. Lapid plans to run as mayor of Porac, Pampanga.
Reelectionist senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito is set to take his oath as member of the NPC next week, Mr. Sotto said.
In the Nacionalista Party (NP), reelectionist Senator Cynthia A. Villar said only three members of the party will running for senator, including herself, the others being Ilocos Norte governor Imee R. Marcos and Taguig Rep. Pia S. Cayetano.
She said the NP has also allied with Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio’s regional political party Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
“We were all endorsed by the Hugpong. We went to Vigan, we went to La Union, we went to all the Region 11 provinces. We already went to various places with them,” she told reporters after a Senate budget hearing.
Reelectionist senators Nancy S. Binay-Angeles of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and Juan Edgardo M. Angara of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) were named presidents of their respective parties last September.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has set the period of filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2019 midterm polls from Oct. 11 to 17.
By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter