THE fielding by the legitimate opposition led by the Liberal Party (LP) of only eight candidates—four short of the 12 open seats—in the senatorial race is proof of how far the former administration party has fallen. Not only has the LP weakened considerably, it could coalesce with only the smaller political groups. The machinery of the opposition is dwarfed by that of the administration party PDP-Laban and Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago alone. That does not mean the opposition bets are of inferior quality.
The coalition includes, among others, the Akbayan, the Magdalo group of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s comrade-in-arms Gary Alejano; Aksyon Demokratiko, which was founded by the late Raul Roco; Tindig Pilipinas (this is the first time I heard of the group). One can informally add there the progressives because there is no way they would support any of the administration senatorial bets.
The eight candidates of the legitimate opposition are Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV; former senator and interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas; lawyer Romulo Macalintal; Rep. Gary Alejano of the Magdalo group; Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag) chairperson Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno; former Bangsamoro Transition Commission member Samira Gutoc-Tomawis; former solicitor general Florin Hilbay; and former House deputy speaker Lorenzo “Erin“ Tañada III.
Former congressman Neri Colmenares, who is running for senator with the support of the Makabayan bloc, should have been the ninth bet but as usual the militants do not want to be associated with a not-so-progressive coalition, more so because the LP and Akbayan are there. So Colmenares and the militants are doing things on their own. I respect that, and good luck to them.
Also worth mentioning is former senator Sergio Osmeña III, brother of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who is running for senator as an independent. Unfortunately for him, the Campaign Office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has sought his disqualification for his failure to declare his campaign expenses in his previous run for the Senate.
So there should have been 10 legitimate opposition senatorial bets instead of just 8 had Colmenares and Osmeña joined forces with the LP-led coalition. I just hope that with this situation they wouldn’t end up in the confines of the “united we stand, divided we fall” admonition.
By the way, former activists are helping prop up the campaign of Tañada in Cebu—voluntarily I would like to think. Tañada belongs to a respected political clan whose patriarch is the late Lorenzo Tañada. Had there been a “Hall of Fame” for Filipino senators akin to that of, say, the National Basketball Association, Lorenzo Tañada would have been enshrined there already.
The older Tañada made the job of a senator admirable. So did his contemporary, Jose W. Diokno, father of Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno. Thus we have in Erin and Diokno the better senatorial bets. As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The records of both Erin and Chel show they have inherited their elders’ DNA. That’s why I will surely be voting for them—and the others that I already mentioned, too.