A year before the senatorial election in May, 2019, the nation’s political party leaders are beginning to organize tickets they will field in the mid-term polls.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, secretary-general of the administration party PDP-Laban, said he wants a ticket composed exclusively of party members, proposing reelectionist Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel Jr., Reps. Alfredo Benitez, Geraldine Roman, Karlo Nograles, and Pia Cayetano, along with Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
Senator Pimentel, president of the PDP-Laban, however, wants to include non-party members reelectionist Senators Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Juan Eduardo Angara, and JV Ejercito who, he said, have been administration allies in the Senate.
The Liberal Party, the majority party during the previous administration, appears to be finding difficulty in forming a ticket. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said only one name is certain for the ticket thus far – reelectionist Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV. Drilon said he is asking Mar Roxas to run but the LP’s losing presidential candidate in 2016, it is said, is not eager to run in an LP ticket against a party led by a President with a 70 percent approval rating in surveys.
Then there is the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) which counts with many members in the House of Representatives. Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said NPC will include in its ticket eight who, although non-members, believe in the party’s ideals and objectives – Senators Poe, Villar, Angara, Pimentel, Ejercito, Aquino, and former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Pia Cayetano.
It is evident from these various choices that Philippine parties are still free-wheeling groups, unlike the parties of the United States and European countries whose members are tied strongly together by common causes, principles, and objectives. Before martial law in the Philippines, we too had the Nacionalista Party and the Liberal Party, with firmly loyal members who would disdain being called a “balimbing” or turncoat.
But after 1986, all administration parties lost most of their members to the winning candidate’s party right after the elections. Thus it is the PDP-Laban of President Duterte that most of the senatorial candidates want to join in the coming election.
The party organization may win some votes but in senatorial elections, the individual candidates have their own individual appeal to voters. In the last Pulse Asia survey, the names of Poe, Villar, Cayetano, Binay, and Angara stood out in the top six, along with Davao Mayor Sara Duterte who, apart from being the President’s daughter, has shown strong leadership among younger voters.
We can expect many changes in the various parties’ lists in the coming months, but these top six enjoy a big lead, leaving the others to vie for the six other slots in the 12-member winning slate. These six have good records and until our party system reaches the desired level of effectivity, individual performance records will guide the nation’s voters in their choice of officials.