Few surprises among bets in 2019 polls

MANILA – Everyone who was expected to run for available elective posts in next year’s mid-term elections is running, but there were a handful of surprises.

Politicians trooped to the Commission on Elections headquarters in the City of Manila this week to beat the deadline for the filing of their Certificate of Candidacy (CoC).

One of the most unexpected bets is former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, currently out on bail on a plunder charge related to the PDAF scandal. If he wins yet another term, 94-year-old Enrile will reach the grand old age of 100 by the time his 6-year term ends. Enrile will run as an independent.

The political opposition, meanwhile, was elated when former Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas officially joined the fray. Roxas will run for senator under the Liberal Party (LP), under which he ran but lost to Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 presidential elections.

“Old” political names are running for the 12 senate seats up for grabs, namely Imee Marcos (with the Nacionalista Party), reelectionist Bam Aquino (LP), and two sons of late lawmakers from the Senate’s Golden Age, Erin Tanada (son of Lorenzo, LP) and Jose Manuel  Diokno (dean of De La Salle University’s college of law and son of Jose W. Diokno, LP)

Other notable senatorial candidates include Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa, former Philippine National Police head who oversaw the nationwide “tokhang” operations that resulted in the deaths of thousands of suspected drug pushers as well as users, and ageing folk singer Freddie Aguilar. Dela Rosa is an official candidate of the administration PDP-Laban, while Aguilar said he was also with the party. This, however, was denied by PDP-Laban officials.

At this early stage, surveys show that the likely first placer in the senate race is a toss-up between two reelectionists, Grace Poe and Cynthia Villar. Considered a likely winner without necessarily being a top-notcher is reelectionist Nancy Binay. The feud of her two siblings came out in the open this week.

Sibling rivalry reared its head on two fronts with former Makati mayor JunjunBinay seeking to regain his post against his sister and incumbent Makati Mayor Abigail Binay. Former vice president Jejomar Binay said he would not take sides, instead leaving it up to the voters of the city to decide.

Half brothers JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada originally said they were running for their old senate seats, but incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada reportedly asked Jinggoy to back down and take his place as chief executive of the capital city instead. Jinggoy, however, is seen to face an uphill climb as he is incarcerated due to his role in the PDAF scandal, just like Enrile. He has until the end of this week to change his mind about his senate run.

Seeking a return to the House of Representatives is outgoing Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, whose sister Pia Cayetano is also seeking reelection in the upper chamber of Congress. In place of Cayetano, President Duterte has appointed Ambassador Teddy Locsin as the new head of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Alan Peter Cayetano told media that his resignation was with the blessings of President Duterte, who also wants him to become Speaker of the House.

Mocha Uson is running for party-list representative while former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday filed his certificate of candidacy, pursuing his Senate bid after earlier saying he would run for party-list representative instead.

A complete list of candidates for all positions will be known by the end of this week.