“I have more than 12 on my list so far.”
Who will forget the feisty but inimitable Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago? Who cannot remember the brilliant nationalist senators like Jovito Salonga, Jose Diokno, Lorenzo Tañada, and Claro M. Recto? How about the brilliant Ninoy Aquino who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country?
Since its establishment at the turn of the 20th century under Philippine Organic Act which created the Philippine Commission, the Philippine Senate has been the home to notable and some infamous personalities that, for better or for worse, helped shape the Philippine political landscape. Philippine political culture being as it is, most members come from the crème de la crème of society, the oligarchy and ruling class of the country. Many are elected either because they belong to the political and economic elite, are close to the center of power like the president, or are able to appeal and mesmerize the masses by their celebrity status.
Unlike the members of the House of Representatives who are elected by the electorate in the local districts, the senators are elected at large by the qualified voters of the whole country. The Senate alone can try and decide cases of impeachment and concur with or reject treaties or international agreements (two-thirds vote). The Senate President heads the Commission on Appointments.
Many past presidents come from this august chamber. Quezon, Roxas, and Marcos held positions as senators before they were eventually elected to the highest elective post in the country.
For this year’s May 9, 2022 national elections, the Commission on Elections has recorded more or less 174 candidates, coming from different sectors and political parties like the 1Sambayan, Aksyon Demokratiko, MP3 Alliance, Team Robredo–Pangilinan, UniTeam Alliance, non-affiliated or independent candidates, to name a few. The senators to be elected in this coming May 2022 elections will serve until June 30, 2028.
I have not finalized my list of senatorial candidates to vote for in May. But I have a short list that I would like to share with readers.
For sure, I will vote for all human rights champions that are running for senator. These include Jojo Binay, Chel Diokno, Leila De Lima, Neri Colmenares, and Luke Espiritu.
I am definitely voting for Gibo Teodoro. He is the senatorial candidate I know most in this election. We do not always agree on issues but I trust that he will always do the right thing for the country. I will write a full column about him in the near future.
I have also known Alex Lacson for a long time, as he was my student in the College of Law of the University of the Philippines. I can vouch for his brilliance, nationalism, and integrity.
I am also going to vote for as many women as I can find worthy, thus aside from De Lima, Loren Legarda, Risa Hontiveros, and Samira Gutoc are in my list. I was going to vote for Agnes Bailen but I was shocked during The Rundown 2022 senatorial debate last Saturday where she said she supports the Anti-Terror Law. That’s a deal breaker for me.
Environmental and climate justice being on top of the issues I care about is another reason to vote for Legarda. This is why Roy Cabonegro and David D’Angelo are on my short list. They are well-informed and passionate advocates whose voices we need in the Senate.
Indigenous peoples are also on top of my concerns. That is why I am surely voting for Teddy Baguilat. He will represent not only the peoples of the Cordillera but also the Lumad in Mindanao, the Aetas in Central and Southern Luzon, the Mangyans in Mindoro, the Tagbanua and other tribes in Palawan, and other peoples elsewhere.
I would like Mindanao to have a strong voice in the Senate. That is why Migs Zubiri, together with Gutuc, is on my list. Although he is not from Mindanao but from Samar, I have shortlisted Lutz Barbo, my fellow professor at the Ateneo School of Government and a close associate of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, as experienced voices are also needed in the Senate.
In addition to Colmenares and Espiritu, labor leaders Bong Labog and Sonny Matula deserve to be in the Senate. Workers need to be represented in this legislative body.
Finally, among the reelectionists, I am considering voting for Dick Gordon because of his leadership on anti-corruption investigations, Win Gatchalian whose energy expertise we need in this time, Joel Villanueva for his empathy for the poor, Chiz Escudero as he understands local governance very well, and Sonny Trillanes for his strength of character. I know each of these gentlemen and have seen them do good things with the power they have. For this reason, I am also open to voting for Mark Villar whose stint as Public Works and Highways Secretary have been stellar.
I have more than 12 on my list. I will continue to listen to interviews and debates to be able to finalize the candidates I will vote for.
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