20 senatoriables file candidacy papers

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Monday, October 1, 2012


MANILA -- Twenty people trooped to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) head office in Manila to file their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for senator in the first day of the filing on Monday.

The first to officially file his COC was reelectionist Senator Aquilino Pimentel III of the Liberal Party (LP).

Pimentel filed his COC hours ahead of the administration coalition's formal proclamation of its 12-man full slate at Club Filipino in San Juan City.

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Eight candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) also filed their COCs on Monday.

They are Senator Gregorio Honasan II, San Juan City Representative Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito, Cagayan Representative Juan "Jackie" Ponce Enrile Jr., Zambales Representative Milagros "Mitos" Magsaysay, former senators Ernesto Maceda, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Richard Gordon, former Tarlac governor Margarita "Tingting" Cojuangco.

The group was accompanied by the party leaders Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Joseph Estrada.

UNA is a coalition of Binay's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino of Estrada.

Senator Loren Legarda, who is seeking her last term, filed her COC at 3:50 p.m., citing feng shui of her January birthday as reason for filing at a specific time.

She also declared that this will be her last political campaign “in my life.”

“So it will be my last term,” said Legarda.

Legarda is common candidate of UNA and the LP-led administration coalition.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the 20 COCs filed Monday represent half of the poll body's expectation of 50 applications during the five-day filing period.

The period of COC filing ends 5 p.m. of October 5 (Friday).

"We are almost half (the number) and it's only been one day," Jimenez said.

Aside from the big and influential names in politics, several other unknown individuals filed their COCs for senator.

Among them was a man claiming to be the husband of presidential sister Kris Aquino, another one who identified himself to be the "owner" of the Philippine archipelago, and a senatorial wannabe who claims to be "most qualified" for being like national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

Kris Aquino's "hubby" Daniel Magtira, businessman Salam Lacan Luisong Tagean and Merlito Lagata filed their COCs for senator.

Magtira, the third to file his COC, said in a television interview that he wants to wed first the Queen of All Media and youngest sister of President Benigno Aquino III before concentrating on his Senate run.

He admitted that he was a multiple-time filer for national posts but has never made the final list. He gave out t-shirts to members of the media bearing the words “Happy Birthday Daniel Magtira. Love Kris Aquino, First Lady Imelda Marcos” and even threw out coins before leaving the Comelec premises.

Tagean, for his part, claimed that he is the "legitimate owner" of the whole archipelago, including the Panatag (Scarborough) shoal in the West Philippine Sea., owing back to their forefathers in the 13th century.

He said he wants to run as senator in order to rectify the things such as the issues on Scarborough Shoal and Spratly Islands.

“Nagkakaroon tayo ng problema sa Spratlys at Scarborough Shoal. E kung sabihin ko kung sino ang tunay na may-ari? Buhay ang heir! Hindi pwedeng kunin sa amin ang legality niyan,” said Tagean.

Lagata, the 18th person to file COC, is again seeking a Senate seat. He first tried his luck in the 1992 elections but was declared a nuisance candidate by the Comelec.

Lagata, who claimed that he was like Jose Rizal and is qualified to run for Senate, asked a television reporter for her hand in marriage and joked that he was a good kisser.

Aside from the three, other lesser known COC filers are Anicio Escosura, Aerio Bernardino, and Melchor Chavez.

Marcos loyalist Oliver Lozano and broadcast journalist Melchor Chavez also filed their COCs and will run under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, the political party formed by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Jimenez said the first day of the filing of COCs went smoothly.

"I think the day has been very successful. Except the number of people outside and the volume of activities outside, all of the activities in here went very smoothly. Walang hassle (No hassle)," he said.

Metro Manila police chief Leonardo Espina said the overall situation on the first day of the filing period was "generally peaceful" and that security around the Comelec main office in Intramuros, Manila, has been beefed up.

Espina said the first day of the COC-filing "was accentuated by convoys, caravans, marching bands and festive atmosphere."

The Comelec, however, criticized the continued practice of some politicians of employing fiesta-like motifs in filing their COCs despite the earlier appeal by the poll body to keep the five-day process dignified.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said it was sad that politicians chose to ignore the appeal of the poll body in ridding circus-like environments during the COC filing, which began Monday.

"The filing looks like a circus. This is a very dignified process," Brillantes said, adding that some group use the event as a venue to campaign early.

Outside the Palacio del Gobernador building in Manila, bus loads of supporters of UNA candidates flocked the vicinity early in the day carrying streamers, tarpaulins and cheering on the names of their candidates.

There were also some groups that featured bands while other camps held picnics in the nearby plaza.

Over the weekend, Brillantes appealed to candidates to avoid having lavish programs for their COC filing by bringing along a throng of supporters.

But the Comelec chair admitted that the candidates are not violating any laws when they organize their supporters since there is no law against premature campaigning.

"As we have said, it may not be unlawful but it is definitely against ethics," said Brillantes.

In the Iloilo provincial office of Comelec, the candidates of United Nationalist Alliance were first to file their COCs.

In Davao City, it was a quiet day at the Comelec city office on Monday as only two candidates, who can be regarded as serious contenders, filed their candidacy papers.

In Isabela City, Basilan, Governor Jum Akbar and Representative Jim Hataman-Salliman, who are running under the administration’s Liberal Party, and five others have filed their COCs on Monday. (HDT/Kathrina Alvarez/Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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