Campaign Period Begins for Philippine 2013 Elections
(Article No. 8 – The Vincent Times)
February 13, 2013
The campaign period for the midterm elections in the Philippines kicked off on February 11 with the two biggest contending parties, the Liberal Party (LP) and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), proclaiming their respective senatorial candidates in 2 separate cities.
It is interesting to note that the incumbent President of the country, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, III. spearheads the campaign of the Liberal Party. Conversely, the United Nationalist Alliance’s charge is led by the Vice President of the republic, Jejomar Binay, the Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and Joseph Estrada, himself a former President.
The United Nationalist Alliance is a coalition of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas Ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) headed by Binay and the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of Estarda.
The Liberal Party, considered as the administration party, held their proclamation rally at the Plaza Miranda located in Quiapo, Manila. The place is historically significant to the political group for it was where their senatorial candidates in a similar proclamation rally during the Martial Law regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos were hurt when unidentified men lobbed two grenades in the stage where the candidates, family members and a few supporters were staying.
On their part, the United Nationalist Alliance introduced its candidates for the senatorial elections at the Plaza Independencia in Cebu City. The group’s choice for its initial campaign salvo was considered a tactical move considering that Cebu has 2.5 million voters, the biggest among the provinces in the country.
However, in the Presidential elections 3 years ago, Aquino received more than a million votes even without the support of the political clans in the province. The Liberal Party is perhaps banking on this statistics. They believe that the President can weave his magic in wooing the votes in the province in favor of the party’s senatorial candidates
Both proclamation rallies were attended by thousands of citizens and were covered by the national media outfits. As expected from this kind of political exercises, the candidates were given the time to speak and spell out their programs of action.
Some independent candidates were also given media mileage, for free.
Technically each of the two parties has 9 candidates. They share 3 common candidates, thus, each claim to have 12 “senatorial wannabes” in their respective line-ups. This arrangement has created controversy and a brewing rift between the 2 groups for in the first 2 campaign sorties, including the proclamation rally, the said guest candidates were seemingly favoring the administration party. This prompted the leadership of the opposition party to ask the 3 common candidates to honor their commitments to the party. A representative of the party said that these candidates “cannot have the best of both worlds.”
But aside from the misunderstanding created by the common candidates, the two opposing parties in the elections are seemingly civil to one another. Observers say that although the United Nationalist Alliance has embraced the role of a “constructive opposition” whose objective is to seek further improvement of the program of the Aquino administration, the party is yet to say or do something to show they indeed are the opposition.
President Noynoy Aquino has been actively campaigning for the senatorial line up of his party. He believes that the May 13 elections are a referendum of sort on his leadership. The candidates themselves agreed that as a matter of strategy they would be trumpeting the accomplishments of the President in order to bolster their chances of winning.
On his part , Vice President Binay is naturally giving his all out support for the candidates of the Opposition, for, as political analysts observed, he must lay the foundations of his ambition to replace Aquino when the latter’s term ends in 2016.
The opposition may find it hard to find a brick to throw against the incumbent government led by Aquino since his 3-year old presidency has yielded so much gains. Most notable of which are the economic gains. Trading in the Philippine stock market has never been as robust as it is now so much so that the PSEi (Philippine Stock Exchange index) have hit a record high of 6,500.08 points. No less than the International Monetary Fund has given the Philippines a passing mark when its chief, Christine Legarde, declared that they have increased the growth forecast for the country.
The confidence of the international community to the Aquino administration all the more improved when a peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front was forged hoping to end decades of conflict in Southern Philippines. All these the opposition must contend with as it presents its political agenda to the voters and sway their votes to their favor.
There are 24 seats in the Philippine Senate but only 12 are up for grabs for the May 13 elections.
Aside from the senators, the voters will also elect their respective representatives to Congress, governors, vice-governors, provincial board members, mayor, vice mayor and municipal or city councilors.
There are also political seats to be contested in the so-called autonomous regions in the country.