A NUMBER of politicians trooped to Commission on Elections offices in the country as the midterm elections kicked off Thursday, October 11, with the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs).
Former Senate president Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, singer Freddie Aguilar, former party-list congressman Neri Colmenares, and former Department of Health (DOH) consultant Dr. Willie Ong were among the early birds who filed their COCs for senator in Manila.
Pimentel, who is seeking reelection, became the first to file his COC for senator.
"This is so I can already get this off my mind and be able to focus on my wedding next week," he said after filing his COC shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday.
He said he and his party mates at ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) agreed to file individually since some of them were still undecided while others also have other personal matters to attend to.
"You can expect around six more candidates for senator from PDP-Laban," said Pimentel.
Asked who are the other candidates expected from PDP-Laban, he refused to identify them in order to allow them to have their "spotlight" when they file their COCs.
"Those who are still undecided, we don't want to force them. There are also others that we advised not to run anymore since we believe it is not yet their time," said Pimentel.
Aguilar, meanwhile, said he has "finally succumbed to the long standing call of ordinary citizens for him to take his advocacies to the Senate."
"After 40 years, I was finally convinced by ordinary citizens to run. They have been urging me to run for a long time already because of my advocacies through my songs," said Aguilar.
A known supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, Aguilar said he is running under PDP-Laban and that Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go has promised to support him.
"I was able to talk to SAP Bong Go and I asked if they will help me. He said they will support me," said Aguilar.
Asked to assess his chances, the singer said he is leaving his fate to the people.
"These are the same people that supported President Duterte, the ordinary citizens," said Aguilar.
Aguilar is known for his songs such as "Anak," "Estudyante Blues," "Bayan Ko," and "Ipaglalaban Ko."
Colmenares, for his part, said he filed his COC as he believes he has a better chance of winning this time. He lost in the 2016 polls.
"I believe that opposition candidates have a better chance to succeed, especially if we oppose the Train law of this administration, which has been giving hardships to our people," said Colmenares.
He said that, if elected, he is looking to push for the scrapping of the Train law, particularly the additional excise tax on fuels.
"We need to eliminate this additional excise tax for fuel and demolish the cartel," he said.
Asked if he will be running alone from the Makabayan Party, he answered in the affirmative but added that they are willing to forge coalitions.
"We are open to be adopted by other political parties except with the administration," said Colmenares.
To recall, Colmenares served as Bayan Muna party-list representative from May 2009 to June 2016.
Another hopeful, Ong, said he filed his COC as it is already long overdue for medical practitioners to make a comeback in the Senate and genuinely push for the healthcare needs in the country.
"There is a hole in the Senate. There has been without a doctor since Senator [Juan] Flavier," he said.
Ong, who is running under the Lakas-CMD party, said he wants to push for measures that will provide cheap or free medicines, surgery, consultation, and laboratory tests.
"I just want to provide a program much like what 'Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko' did before. That is my simple goal," he said.
Under the administration of former DOH Secretary Enrique Ona, Ong served as a consultant. He is also a practicing cardiologist and internist.
The filing of COCs for senators is being held at the Palacio del Gobernador building in Intramuros, Manila.
Filing of COCs for the 2019 mid-term elections will be held until October 17, except Saturday and Sunday. (Ruth Abbey Gita/HDT/SunStar Philippines)