Opposition coalition 1Sambayan on Friday said it may only name its official candidates for next year’s elections by late September, saying the party is still focused on its expansion activities.  

More than three months since it was launched, the coalition is “still in the process of accepting nominations,” retired justice Antonio T. Carpio, a coalition convenor, told a virtual press briefing. 

“We have not closed the period for submitting nominations and we expect to complete our process by September,” he said. “Some time in the later part of September, we may be able to announce the candidates of 1Samabayan,” he said. 

The coalition is still recruiting allies, he added. 

With over two months left before the filing of candidacies in October, Mr. Capio said it is still possible to have a unified opposition slate.  

“I think it’s very possible to have a unified ticket. It’s still very early and, really, the tickets are formed after the filing of the certificates of candidacy,” he said. “Even after candidates file their certificate of candidacy, they still continue to form coalitions.” 

Mr. Carpio maintained that the opposition should have only one candidate for the country’s highest position “because we believe that is the best way to beat the candidate of President Duterte.” 

“If the opposition is fragmented, if the opposition has two or more candidates, then the opposition will have a hard time defeating” administration bets, he added. 

1Sambayan convenor Albert E. Alejo earlier said the coalition is open to including Senator Emanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, who recently came out against state corruption, in its list of nominees. 

Mr. Pacquiao, an administration ally, has also criticized the President’s stance on the South China Sea dispute.  

Last week, the senator was voted out as acting president of the ruling PDP-Laban, which the President chairs. 

Politicians who have announced their intent to run in next year’s polls might still change their minds by October and might join the broad opposition coalition, 1Sambayan convenor Howard M. Calleja said at the same briefing.  

“Those statements or declaration this early are not signs they will indeed file their candidacies in October. I wouldn’t be surprised if some senators or even some of [those who made] president or vice-president declarations would either withdraw or join forces with us,” the lawyer said.  

“I wouldn’t be surprised that even some of them are joining us in the future,” he added.  

Meanwhile, Mr. Carpio clarified that 1Sambayan has already excluded Senator Panfilo N. Lacson from its selection process. 

Mr. Lacson, who recently announced his presidential bid for the 2022 elections, earlier rejected being nominated by the opposition group, noting that many of its members were plaintiffs in a Supreme Court lawsuit questioning the Anti-Terrorism Act, which he had authored.  

Mr. Lacson “isn’t a part [of the selection] because he has not agreed to be part of the process,” Mr. Carpio said. “We invited him, but he declined and he announced his candidacy for president.”  

Despite this, Mr. Carpio said 1Sambayan is still an inclusive coalition.  

“We are very inclusive, that’s why up to now we’re trying to form a bigger coalition. We’re talking with a lot of political parties, a lot of NGOs to form part of the 1Samabayan coalition. We believe in expanding our membership, we are very inclusive, in fact,” he said. 

1Sambayan earlier included Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, former senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV and human rights lawyer Jose Manuel I. Diokno, who have all criticized Mr. Duterte’s administration, in its list of nominees for the 2022 polls.   

Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Batangas Rep. Vilma- Santos Recto, and Party-list Rep. Eduardo C. Villanueva, who are considered moderates in the Congress, were also nominated.  — Kyle Aristophere Atienza