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Reelectionist senators band together for campaign

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PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

REELECTIONIST SENATORS belonging to different political affiliations have banded together and held a proclamation rally in Tondo, Manila City on the second day of the campaign period for the 2019 midterm elections on May 13.

The gathering was organized by independent candidate Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who did not secure an endorsement from the administration.

Her fellow reelectionist senators — Nancy S. Binay-Angeles, Aquilino L. Pimentel III, Cynthia A. Villar, Juan Edgardo M. Angara, and Joseph Victor G. Ejercito — attended the event.

Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV, who was in Camarines Sur for the opposition slate’s proclamation rally, was not present.

In a statement, Ms. Binay-Angeles said the gathering showed a “testament of unity in diversity in the Senate.”

“One thing notable with our group is that we the reelectionists have established good rapport and have helped each other during debates and in times of differences of opinion. From an institutional perspective, we find an acceptable balance between unity and diversity, instead of dwelling on irreconcilable principles,” she said.




“I’m asking for your support. We have worked very well in the Senate. Opposition or administration, my colleagues will pass many laws that will benefit you,” Ms. Poe-Llamanzares said in Filipino during the televised rally.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, along with Senators Sherwin T. Gatchalian and Francis G. Escudero, were also present during the rally to campaign for their fellow lawmakers.

“I am standing here today because it’s elections time. We need to maintain the independence of the Senate and to find ways on how the legislature can help the country,“ Mr. Sotto said at the rally.

“We have a high approval rating, the high trust rating in the Senate because of my colleagues,” he added.

The reelectionist senators cited the laws they have passed during their six-year term.

Ms. Poe-Llamanares noted the school-based National Feeding Law, Mr. Angara mentioned the discounts granted to students and senior citizens, while Mr. Ejercito cited the universal health program.

Ms. Villar said she has created livelihood projects which provided jobs to many Filipinos. Ms. Binay-Angeles, meanwhile, recalled that her father, former Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, Sr., announced his vice presidential bid in Tondo, Manila City.

Mr. Pimentel said he helped pass the laws extending the validity of passports and driver’s license as well as the free tuition law during his stint as Senate President.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has cleared the way for Mr. Pimentel’s candidacy after it announced on Wednesday that it has dismissed all disqualification cases filed against him.

The first and second congressional districts of Manila City cover Tondo with a combined 344,000 registered voters, based on the 2016 Comelec data.

Ms. Binay-Angeles is from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Mr. Pimentel is from the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban), Ms. Villar is from the Nacionalista Party (NP), Mr. Angara is from the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), and Mr. Ejercito is from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Meanwhile, senatorial candidates under the opposition slate Otso Diretso trooped to Camarines Sur, the hometown of Liberal Party ally and chairman Vice President Leni G. Robredo.

As of 2016, the province has about one million registered voters, according to Comelec.

Senatorial candidates endorsed by Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) held its second-day rally in Mariveles, Bataan, which has about 494,000 registered voters.

SOCIAL MEDIA
In another development, the recent guidelines issued by the Comelec on the regulation of social media for campaigning during elections are legally debatable, according to election lawyer George Erwin M. Garcia.

Mr. said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum on Wednesday that while he applauds the Comelec’s attempt to include social media in outlets they will regulate during the campaign period, there is still no legal basis for this.

“(Our) Fair Election Acts or Republic Act No. 9006 provided that the Comelec can regulate television, radio, newspapers and other means and such other ways. The problem is wala tayong (we don’t have) specific na law which regulates social media,” Mr. Garcia said.

He added, “The Comelec would like to punish violators of their rules on social media but can the Comelec punish something which the law does not mention? It’s highly questionable.”

Comelec released Resolution 10488 last Jan. 30, containing social media guidelines for the election campaign period.

Section 9-C of the resolution states that internet, mobile, and social media propaganda are already considered part of mass media.

Comelec Spokesperson James B. Jimenez said in the same forum, “Mass media is a technical term. The definition of mass media includes social media.” — Camille A. Aguinaldo and Gillian M. Cortez