SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez came out last Saturday with an early list of six senatorial candidates of the PDP-Laban, with two new faces – Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque – immediately drawing considerable attention.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III stressed it is not a final list, especially since it does not include him, a reelectionist. And he is the president of the ruling party. “We have to involve the entire party membership, including the party chairman, President Duterte, in the decision-making process,” he said.
Last month, Pimentel released his own list of names which was slightly different from the list of Speaker Alvarez.
Pimentel led his own list, although he may face a legal problem if he runs. The Constitution allows only two terms for a senator and Pimentel served two years of Sen. Juan Manuel Zubiri’s term, who had resigned, and then won a second term in 2013. This could be why Speaker Alvarez did not include him in his list.
It is at about this time that candidates’ names start coming up, although more often, candidates wait until after the Christmas season. By January of 2018, senatorial possibilities will be actively involved in public activities.
Senatorial candidates have to campaign nationwide, so they have a much wider ground to cover, unlike congressmen, governors, mayors, and other local officials who only need to go around their district, or province, or town or city.
Inevitably, all candidates for senator in the country get compared to great luminaries who served outstanding term in the Philippine Senate. Among them were Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tanada, Jovito Salonga, Jose W. Diokno, Jose Yulo, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Edgardo Angara, and Aquilino Pimentel Jr. Ferdinand Marcos went on to become president of the country while Benigno S. Aquino Jr. is a martyr-hero.
When the senatorial elections are held on May 13, 2019, these names will be at the back of the minds of many voters.
They may have lived in another era when voters had different standards in casting their votes. But many continue to look up to these respected members of the Senate to this day.
In any case, the coming out of administration officials with their lists of possible senatorial candidates is a welcome sign of our democracy at work. The names being mentioned by the PDP-Laban may not quite be in the same league as the great senators of Philippine history, but they should be able to make their own contribution to the building of the Filipino nation.