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Filipinos are quick to recognize the names of candidates with namesakes of current and or former political figures – Aquino, Pimentel, Trillanes, Poe – as well as re-electionists like Legarda and Escudero. Other names are familiar to the ears, but the rest remain virtually unknown to the public, especially to the Filipino masses and the youth voters.
This could be due to media exposure and ad recall, experience in office, or past election stints. Whatever the reason, these same names make up the “Magic 12” in the election polls. However, the question lies in whether or not voters have considered platforms – beyond hearsay – in lining up their choices for the upcoming Senatorial elections.
The candidates’ platforms, their own manifestos, touch issues deemed relevant to the country, and relay their stands as well as their plans of action if elected into position. These make for points of debate amongst the candidates, and are open doors to both praise and criticism.
Upon analysis of their individual platforms, key issues surface apart from the usual livelihood projects and claims of eradicating poverty.
In terms of their stances on last year’s hotter issues, the 33 senatoriables, as they are pegged by Philippine media, are divided in opinion with regard to the Reproductive Health (RH) Law and Cybercrime Law, with 16-17-0 and 17-12-2* pro-anti-no stand tallies, respectively.
A good majority is content with the passage of the Sin Tax law, save for seven, including Ejercito-Estrada and Escudero. Majority are also in favor of implementing an anti-political dynasty law, while candidates Belgica, Binay, Cayetano, Cojuangco, Escudero, Gordon, and Honasan are against it for varied reasons. Ejercito, Legarda, Magsaysay, Poe, Trillanes, and Villar on the other hand have no stands.
The candidates are unanimous in their want for the passage of the Freedom of Information (People’s Ownership of Government Information or POGI) bill. **
On the topic of divorce, reinstatement of the death penalty, and total gun ban, most of them are against the implementation and have included in their platforms why these are ill-suited for the country and also alternative ways to tackle them ***. Those, however, that are in favor are Conjuangco, Falcone, Maceda, Magsaysay, and Villanueva for divorce; Belgica, Cojuangco, Falcone, Maceda, Magsaysay, and Villanueva for the death penalty; thirdly, David, Delos Reyes, Hontiveros, Legarda, Llasos, Magsaysay, and Pimentel for total gun ban.
Same-sex marriage was also tackled as a result the clamor of the LGBT community in recent months. The candidates are against same-sex marriage in the country, with the exception of Enrile who says legalizing it takes away discrimination, and Aquino, Cayetano, Honasan, Hontiveros, Legarda, and Poe who have no stands.
Beyond all this, however, and more than the “eradication of poverty” as a general statement, the nation has many other immediate concerns addressed by some but not all of the candidates in their platforms.
To name a few, there is the Bangsamoro Framework, which is the proposal to replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the new political entity Bangsamoro, is supported by nearly half of the candidates; the effectiveness of the K-12 program, which is criticized by a few while several others would like to propose amendments; and the pork barrel, now named the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), is opposed and whose abolition is wished by a third of those running, almost all of whom remain in the lower half of the polls.
Some of the senatorial bets may also surprise the public with stands on other issues. One example is Ejercito vowing to lobby for the legalization of Marijuana citing medical purposes. Other somewhat controversial issues tackled by some of the candidates include the Philippines’ claim of the Scarborough Shoal and of Sabah, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), and oil deregulation.
Still, there are other things that very few candidates shed light on – the proposed tax reform system, nuclear power amidst the power crisis, promotion of Philippine arts, the coconut industry, welfare of senior citizens, animal rights, environmental protection and renewable energy, benefits of soldiers and war veterans – growing issues that need to be addressed just as much as the rest of those earlier mentioned.
With their advocacies reflected, the platforms may very well dictate the direction the future Senate will take. Whether or not the mix of twelve that will receive the most votes will work smoothly together and if they will be able to keep on track of a unified agenda can already be more or less forecasted. The fact, though, may persist that in the eyes of the voters, these platforms remain largely unnoticed.
* Jamby Madrigal’s and Mitos Magsaysay’s stands are not available.
** Jamby Madrigal’s stand is not available.
*** Some candidates’ stands are not available.
Compilation and analysis by Dana Uson
Infographic by Marinel Mamac