The battle for the Philippine Senate

OUR HUMBLE TAKE is that the Federal form of government is hard to sell to Filipinos and we would likely end up with the same Presidential – Bicameral form of government.

On the other hand- the silly idea of setting up a Revolutionary government to ensure a transition to a Federal form of Government is so insane, one could die laughing. Even the DILG as an institution would not give it the time of day.

If our prognosis is accurate, then the battle for the Senate seats in 2019 could be such a bloody mess- the winners probably swinging the vote whether crucial government policies and /or impeachment plans can prosper.

We can qualify (our opinion) on who one might consider a rabid pro-administration senator against those who could either be decidedly opposition or those who will think independently regardless of what Malacanang wishes. How do the numbers in the Senate look like?

At any given time, there are 24 senators sitting in their Senate seats. Today, we deduct two: Alan Cayetano (appointed as Foreign Affairs Secretary) and Leila De Lima (incarcerated for the so-called drug-related cases). That’s one each for a pro-Admin and ant-Admin group.

Moreover, a lot of capable and visible senators are singing their swan songs now and would not be available for reelection in 2019: Senators Loren Legarda, Gringo Honasan, Antonio Trillanes, and Chiz Escudero- senators who we may have seen their last.

The fifth one, former Senate president Koko Pimentel could technically be qualified to run again as he was inserted to the Senate the “last two minutes” resulting from a favourable resolution over an alleged cheating at the polls at his expense in favor of another Mindanao senator.

Of the ten remaining Senators extended beyond 2019- three (3) can be painted clearly as Opposition in Senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Kiko Pangilinan Three others, we surmise, are “independently minded” and could be inclined more to resist pressure from the Palace rather than kowtow to it: Senators Ping Lacson, Win Gatchalian and Joel Villanueva.

On the other hand, three could be handily pro-Admin with two of them from Mindanao in Senators Migz Zubiri and Manny Pacquiao together, probably with Senate President Tito Sotto. (Could one be a Senate chief without the blessings of Malacanang?).

One maverick Senator who is somewhat pro-Admin but has flashes of fierce independence is veteran Olongapo senator Dick Gordon. It is hard to classify him.

With that diverse cast, the Palace would, of course, need to have more allies with it so that it can advance its legislative and political agenda. Let us begin by indicating who this corner opines may have more than a Chinaman’s chance of winning in the bruising May 2019 polls.

A big loss for the nation would be Survey Topnotcher and 2013 No 1 elected senator and presidential candidate (2o16) Senator Grace Poe. Not only has she one of the most independent minds in the Senate but is also the most winnable -but who had indicated the family had been so traumatized by the 2016 presidential elections that Sen. Grace may opt not to run at all in 2019.

In our books, regardless of how they fare in the survey currently, the reelectionist senators like Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito, and Sonny Angara will break into the winning column in 2019.

Also a sure-ball entry, we think, would be Taguig Representative (former senator and sister of Alan Peter) Pia Cayetano and less probably former Senate president Pimentel, former senator Sergio Osmena and Ilocos Governor Imee Marcos.

Without Poe, that would already be nine (9) prospective winners in May 2019. How do we assess them?

Aquino would likely be Oppositionist while Angara could be more independently minded and is not scared of Malacanang. Pimentel, Cayetano, and Marcos are most likely pro-Admin senators with former senator Osmena as a bastion of independent thinking alongside Ejercito and Binay who have their own political and financial base to remain unattached “soul and spirit” to the Palace.

If the analysis so far indicates that it will be an even-steven fight at the Senate after May 2019, the last three remaining slots for that election would be crucial for Senate control.

For the Opposition to have a statistical possibility of winning those three slots or some of them, it should field name recall figures life former DILG chief Mar Roxas (2016 presidential candidate), Rep Erin Tanada (political clan) , popular star and Aquino ally Dingdong Dantes (plus Marian Rivera, of course) and why not Ma. Lourdes Sereno (ex-Chief Justice)?

For the Palace allies, popular names are former PNP Chief Bato de la Rosa, Special Assistant to the President Bong Co and former Senator Jinggoy Estrada and media man Erwin Tulfo plus actor Lito Lapid -who are faring not so badly in the recent poll survey.

However, when president Duterte campaigns against graft and corruption on stage, he might not appear too credible with Estrada (jailed for PDAF) and Tulfo ( P 60-M PTV 4 -DOT Scandal) on the same stage with him.

And if in search for competence, wonder what Lapid had learned to add to his wisdom tooth by appearing proper and brave in “Ang Probinsiyano”? We always thought Lapid is good only for local politics in Pampanga. Rep, Nograles of Davao is a competent man we hear being bandied about- how does one make him a “national name recall” personality?

The May 2019 Senate election is more than just a popularity contest- it could determine what kind of thinking a Senate would have beginning July 2019 when they begin their terms of office.

What do you think? Do you already have senators to vote for in mind already?

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or boholrd@mozcom.com