Senatorial bets kick off campaign candidates

Pro-administration and opposition alliances are gearing up for the start of the campaign season Tuesday, with kick-off events in different cities.

READ: Senate bets down to 82—Comelec

The senatorial candidates of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) will launch their campaign in the cities of San Fernando and Clark in Pampanga, while the opposition Otso Derecho alliance will hold its campaign kick-off event in Caloocan City.

The senatorial slate of President Rodrigo Duterte’s political party, PDP-Laban, will also join the HNP campaign kick-off event in Pampanga.

The HNP’s 13 senatorial candidates in the May elections are Senators Cynthia Villar, Aquilino Pimentel III, JV Ejercito, and Juan Edgardo Angara; former senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Pia Cayetano; Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, former national police chief Ronald dela Rosa, former special assistant to the president Christopher Go, former presidential legal adviser Francis Tolentino and former journalist Jiggy Manicad.

Mangudadatu, Dela Rosa, Go, Pimentel and Tolentino are also running under the ruling party, PDP-Laban, which will hold its own kick-off event in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan on Feb. 14.

Otso Diretso senatorial candidates will focus on easing the life of the Filipino family, Senator Francis Pangilinan said Monday, on the eve of the start of the 90-day national campaign period for senators and party-list representatives.

The Otso Diretso senatorial candidates Gary Alejano, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Pilo Hilbay, Romy Macalintal, former senator Manuel Roxas II, and Erin Tañada based their legislative agenda on the people’s hopes and fears that they gathered in a nationwide face-to-face listening program that ran for 10 weeks last year.

The candidates and 9,800 volunteers knocked on doors and talked to ordinary people all over the country, said Pangilinan, Otso Diretso campaign manager.

He added that voting for the right people will result in the real change that the Filipino people need: affordable, available, and accessible food, education, and health services, as well as decent jobs.

“Our campaign would be uphill as most of them are relatively unknown in the national stage,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan, who himself ran a difficult independent but successful run in 2007, said the people would be key in the victory for the Otso Diretso candidates through Makinig 2.0, a face-to-face, volunteer-driven persuasion campaign.

“Makinig 2.0 is our version of People Power, empowering ordinary citizens so that they are able to make the right choice for senators and empowering them to campaign for these choices,” said Pangilinan, who is not running for re-election.

“This campaign strategy of going house-to-house is a game-changer. It has not been done on a national scale,” he added.

The Palace said President Duterte will actively campaign for his preferred senatorial candidates.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made this remark as he defended Duterte’s decision to back the senatorial bid of former senator Jinggoy Estrada and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.

“The President, as he said, will endorse certain candidates of his choice, so presumably he will be actively campaigning [for them] since he is not prohibited by the law to do so,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

Panelo played down concerns about Duterte endorsing candidates from three separate slates, saying that such a move would not harm the candidates.

Asked what specific qualifications the President considers in endorsing candidates for the May 2019 elections, Panelo said: “Honesty and hardworking.”

He added that Estrada, who still faces plunder charges, is considered innocent unless he is convicted.

“Former senator Estrada is charged with corruption. And the Constitution says, unless you are convicted by final judgment, you are presumed to be innocent. So, the presumption is Estrada is innocent,” he said.

Panelo added that the President was giving back the support he received from the Ilocos Norte governor in the 2016 presidential elections.

“He is helping Imee because he is indebted to her. She’s one of two governors, who helped him in the 2016 campaign. I think his reason is really his debt of gratitude,” he said.

“In the first place, Imee is not charged with corruption. She has not been charged with any crime,” he added.

In his previous public engagements, Duterte revealed that he will support the Senate bid of Marcos, re-electionist senators Villar and Angara, and Taguig City Rep. Pia Cayetano.

On top of that, he frequently mentions the Senate bid of his former top aide Go, Tolentino, and Dela Rosa.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), meanwhile, is set to add more election hot spots given the intense political rivalry in these areas.

In a briefing, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said they will expand their list of critical election areas outside of the 19 cities and municipalities it had earlier declared as hot spots.

READ: Roque withdraws Senate bid

READ: Comelec trims senatorial bets, party-list groups in ‘19 polls

Topics: senatorial candidates , Sara Duterte-Carpio , Hugpong ng Pagbabago , Rodrigo Duterte , Otso Derecho
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