Espinoza: A free zone for the presidential race?

·3 min read

The First among the first? In all the years that I have been exercising my suffrage, this is the first time that there are 97 candidates for president, 29 for vice president, 176 for a 12 open seat for the senate, and 270 party-lists. A free zone and denigrated is what has become of our electoral system because anyone could file a certificate of candidacy (COC).

Funny as it may seem, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that, as the joke goes, only works during the election period, would have their hands full once petitions to declare nuisance candidates are filed against those who are incapable of waging a decent political campaign.

Before the start of the cleaning, so to speak, of the list of candidates that would be included in the official ballot, the Comelec from now until Nov. 15, 2021, will also be busy with the process of substitutions of candidates for president and vice president. This sort of trick started in the 2016 polls when President Duterte substituted in the last hour Martin Diño, who filed the COC for president under PDP-Laban.

At the local level, there are not many politically inclined people interested to contest the position of governor for Cebu and mayor of the highly urbanized cities like Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. It’s practically the same faces and names. What would change perhaps is which national party these local political parties would affiliate with during the campaign period for good reasons.

Despite the repeated statements of presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio that she is renouncing her desire to run for president in the May 9, 2022 general elections, many still think otherwise. But you know she could always run for vice president if she could come into terms with former Sen. Bongbong Marcos (BBM), who already filed his COC for president without a vice president and senate slate.

The supposed decision of President Duterte to let Sen. Bong Go file the COC for vice president instead of him, who was strongly endorsed by his party–PDP-Laban Cusi wing–could just be one of his gambits. We would know before or on Nov. 15 if his daughter Sara would finally decide not to run for president or vice president of BBM, the president could replace Sen. Go and it could be a BBM-RRD tandem, the administration’s dream team.

Don’t mind whatever Sen. Bato dela Rosa would say about his candidacy for president. He is definitely not a serious contender because he is a dummy for Mayor Sara. Remember, he wore the green shirt with HNP (Hugpong ng Pagbabago) print on it, the official color and party of Sara, when he submitted his COC. Talks are so loud that if Mayor Sara would insist on running for president, BBM could slide down for VP and replace Sen. Go.

Under our cheapened electoral process, all that BBM would do is take the oath as PDP-Laban Cusi wing member before substituting Sen. Go. What Go should do is simply withdraw his COC for vice president on behalf of the substitute candidate BBM.

On the other hand, Mayor Sara, who publicly detested Cusi’s action, doesn’t have to be a member of PDP-Laban to get its support. All that the HNP and PDP-Laban Cusi wing would do is coalesce, which is not prohibited in our electoral system. So, in the end it would be a Sara-BBM tandem, the real dream team, according to them, because the voter support from the solid North and the South is enormous. Woe unto the divided opposition?

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