"They are ready-made for service to the nation."
Sometimes one comes across a phrase or slogan so creative and so catchy that one is led to say to oneself, “I wish I had thought of that first.” I found myself saying exactly that when I first read the phrase Otso Diretso, which is the name of the eight-member senatorial slate of the Liberal Party in the May 13 election. How clever, I thought—a play on the Spanish phrase for ready-made, hecho derecho. Seven men and one woman ready-made for election to the Senate.
Otso Diretso’s eight candidates are made up mostly of currently-serving or former government officials; only two have not held government positions. The six who are either currently serving or have served the government are Bam Aquino, Mar Roxas, Lorenzo ‘Erin’ Tañada III, Florin Hilbay, Gary Alejano and Samira Gutoc. The two candidates who have come from the private sector are Jose Manuel Diokno and Romulo Macalintal.
Bam Aquino, who was formerly chairman of the National Youth Commission, is seeking a second term in the Senate. During his first days in the Senate Bam Aquino was regarded as just another member of the famous clan, but with the passage of time the young senator from Tarlac gained the acceptance and respect of his peers for his dedication, industry and professionalism. Ninoy Aquino would have been proud of his nephew.
A former senator, Mar Roxas was a candidate for the presidency in the 2016 election. Mr. Roxas rode to victory in his first senatorial bid as Mr. Palengke, a title he earned from his having been Secretary of Trade and Industry in the administration of President Estrada and President Arroyo. Roxas was also Secretary of Transportation in the Arroyo administration. With his training and broad experience, Roxas is Otso’s business point-man.
Lorenzo Tañada III, who is better known by his nickname Erin, represented the 4thDistrict of Quezon in the 13th, 14th and 15thCongresses. The grandson of the Grand Old Man of the Senate, the first Lorenzo Tañada, Erin represents the third generation of a family of political activists and human-rights advocates. His father Wigberto completes the Trio Tañada that relentlessly fought martial law and the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the streets and in Free Legal Assistance Group-initiated lawsuits.
Otso Diretso boasts of something that its opposition does not have: a first-placer in the Bar examinations. That person is Florin Hilbay. Pilo Hilbay rose from humble beginnings in Tondo to become UP College of Law dean and Solicitor General. The most recent of the many feathers in his cap is being part of the government panel that successfully argued the Philippines’ case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration. A legal heavyweight Pilo Hilbay truly is.
The military is represented in Otso Diretso. Gary Alejano, who represents the party-list Magdalo party, was a captain in the Philippine Marines. Apart from government corruption, Rep. Alejano’s interest has centered on assertion of Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea and Benham Rise and the creation of a Cabinet government to protect and oversee the nation’s maritime and oceanic affairs. Alejano will double-team with Hilbay in pushing for the assertion of this country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.
The only woman and Muslim in Otso Diretso is Samira Gutoc. Before deciding to join the Senate race, she was a member of the governing assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Smart and articulate, Samira Gutoc is recognized as one of the most competent of this country’s female Muslim professionals.
When the history of the human rights movement in this country is written, two of the most prominent names in it will be former Senator Jose “Ka Pepe” Diokno and his son Jose Manuel. Chel, the nickname of Jose Manuel Diokno, is the dean of the college of law of De La Salle University. The Chel Diokno-Erin Tañada tandem will be in the forefront of the new Senate’s human-rights promotion activities.
Last but by no means least among the Otso Diretso Eight is Romulo Macalintal. Mac Macalintal’s principal area of expertise may be election law, but by no means can it be said that the formidable election lawyer will be unwilling or unable to participate effectively in Senate discussions of other weighty national matters. Not at all. Romulo Macalintal will in time become one of the new Senate’s most influential members.
The Liberal Party has fielded, for the coming Senate election, eight of the most worthy individuals in this country. They are ready-made for service to the nation.