LP candidates told to focus on issues
MANILA, Philippines – A waste of time. This is Sen Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s message to senatorial candidates running under the Liberal party-led Team PNoy over the issue of guest candidates.
In a statement released on Saturday, February 16, Pangilinan urged the administration candidates to avoid engaging in taunts and other tactics that would distract them from the main electoral issues.
"We should move away from engaging in this debate as to whether or not guest candidates should or shouldn't attend rallies of the UNA or Team PNoy tickets,” said Pangilinan. “We strongly urge our LP candidates not to engage in such talks and have others frame the issue according to their terms. It would be a waste of the LP candidates' energy and resolve."
On February 12, Team PNoy and UNA held their respective proclamation rallies. Common candidates Grace Poe-Llamanzares, and senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda joined the Team PNoy rally in Plaza Miranda together with President Benigno Aquino III. Both Llamanzares and Legarda sent representatives to the UNA rally in Plaza Independencia in Cebu. Escudero failed to send a representative, drawing the ire of top UNA leaders.
Team PNoy campaign manager Sen Franklin Drilon said that all 3 common candidates were a part of Team PNoy from day one, having been "hand-picked" by the President.
On February 14, Vice President Jejomar Binay issued a warning to the common candidates to attend UNA rallies or risk being dropped.
All 3 candidates are widely popular and are seen as vote-getters for both sides.
Pangilinan said the debate over which side the candidates belong is not important. "Those presenting themselves to the electorate should focus on raising the level of public debate into that concerning economic and political issues affecting the nation rather than dwell on those matters that have no bearing on the pressing issues of the day."
Pangilinan is a member of the Liberal Party and ends his second term in June 2013. The President reportedly plans to offer the senator a post in his cabinet after he leaves the Senate.
At the same time, senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to do more to make the elections a contest of issues and not of personalities.
“The biggest victim of a personality-driven senatorial race is the voting public,” Hontiveros said. “The Comelec should address growing criticisms that the senatorial race is being reduced into a fight between personalities with no platform, and bring issues and platform in the forefront of the campaign.”
She suggested that the Comelec host debates or provide incentives for the media to do so. “Incentives such as tax breaks could be given to TV networks [for debates]. These would sharpen the differences between candidates along programs and platforms, and would aid voters in choosing their bets,” Hontiveros said.
The former Akbayan party-list representative acknowledged that the elections were full of gimmickry and personality politics. She added that, aside from fraud and violence, the lack of informed choice undermines elections in the country.
“We’ve known that Philippine politics is dominated by gimmickry. Some might find this entertaining, but we hope that come May 2013, the result of the election is a Senate that will truly represent the people."
Hontiveros is making her second attempt at a Senate seat. She ran in 2010 as a guest candidate of the Liberal Party but lost. – With a report by Zak Yuson/Rappler.com