Poe-Escudero tandem announces complete Senate slate

Camille Elemia

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Poe-Escudero tandem announces complete Senate slate
(UPDATED) Half of the slate is composed of exclusive candidates while the other half is shared with either the administration or opposition

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senators Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero formally announced their complete senatorial slate on Thursday, October 29, at Club Filipino in San Juan City.

The event was attended by all senatorial bets except Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, a Liberal Party member who is running under the administration banner. 

Recto sent his son, Ryan Christian Santos Recto, to deliver his message at the event. Some of his staff were also present to show support.

Prior to the announcement, the lineup had some last-minute changes, as Senator Panfilo Lacson was dropped from the slate.

Lacson earlier said Poe called him on Friday, October 23, to say actor and former Makati vice mayor Edu Manzano was chosen to take his slot as Manzano needed more support. After all, Poe supposedly said, he would still win even without joining the Poe-Escudero team. 

Manzano, however, denied this, saying he has been part of the slate for “more than a month” already.

A high-ranking source from the opposition told Rappler that Poe invited Susan “Toots” Ople, an overseas Filipino workers’ advocate and Nacionalista Party member, to join her slate a day after informing Lacson of his exclusion. (READ: Toots Ople replaces Ping Lacson on Poe Senate slate?

Official candidates

Running as independents, the Poe-Escudero lineup is composed of politicians from different political parties. 

Only 4 of the 12 bets are in the so-called “Magic 12,” based on the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted in September. Only 12 senatorial candidates would be elected in 2016. (READ: Old names top SWS 2016 senatorial poll)

Poe and Escudero were only able to get 6 exclusive candidates. As Rappler earlier reported, the other half is composed of candidates shared with other tandems for 2016.  

Exclusive candidates

1. Valenzuela Representative Sherwin Gatchalian

Like Sotto, Gatchalian is a member of the NPC, the party widely believed to be supporting the tandem.

Prior to joining the camp of Poe, there was a time Gatchalian was supporting Vice President Jejomar Binay

He even announced his plans of joining Binay’s new party as part of the 2016 senatorial slate. Things, however, changed, as he was seen at Poe’s last meeting with the NPC. His brother, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, is the campaign spokesman of Poe.

Gathchalian is at 23rd-24th place in the SWS September poll.

2. Pasig Representative Roman Romulo

Although a member of the ruling Liberal Party, Romulo is not part of the administration slate. He declared his support for Poe when he filed his certificate of candidacy on October 14. He was also present in Poe’s last meeting with the NPC and in Poe’s visits to Nueva Ecija, Dumaguete, and Roxas City.

In a press conference on October 20, Romulo defended Poe from critics who say she is not a natural-born Filipino. He said it was former President Manuel Roxas, the grandfather of administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas, who said foundlings are protected by the law.

Romulo is currently at 32nd-36th place in the SWS September poll on voters’ senatorial preferences.

3. Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares

Colmenares was the first senatorial candidate to be formally endorsed by the tandem.

He said he is running because the Senate needs a “fighter,” adding he would continue the fight for the poor.

Poe earlier said she and the Makabayan Party, Colmenares’ party, share common advocacies for the poor.  He is ranked 32nd-36th place in the SWS September poll.

4. Lorna Kapunan

Kapunan, a well-known lawyer of controversial figures such as alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, said she is running as the people’s “ticket of hope.” 

Kapunan is running under the Aksyon Demokratiko party of the late senator Raul Roco. She was the third senatorial bet to be formally endorsed by Poe and Escudero.

The lawyer earlier admitted she was also asked to run under the LP but received some information some party members were not delighted by her opposition to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

5. ACT-CIS party list Representative Samuel Pagdilao

Pagdilao, who had served the police force for over 37 years, said peace and order would be on top of his legislative agenda. He was also a former chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

The senatorial bet is the brother of National Capital Region Police Office chief Joel Pagdilao, who made headlines following the very dramatic conflict between factions in the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Manalo family. (READ: Iglesia ni Cristo drama: Did police do their job?)

6. Edu Manzano

Manzano, an actor and former Makati vice mayor, filed as an independent candidate but is running under the Poe-Escudero tandem.

Lacson said Manzano was the reason cited by Poe for his sudden withdrawal from the slate. The actor, however, denied being Lacson’s replacement. He told Rappler on Wednesday, October 28, that he already knew he was part of the slate “more than a month ago.”

It turned out Ople was reportedly the one asked by Poe to replace Lacson. (READ: Toots Ople replaces Ping Lacson on Poe Senate slate?)

Shared candidates

7. Senator Vicente Sotto III

Sotto, a re-electionist senator, is a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the country’s second biggest political party, which is widely believed to be supporting Poe and Escudero.

He said he is an “official” candidate of the tandem but is also a guest candidate of UNA. While Sotto said he is supporting Poe for president, he admitted he is supporting his best friend, Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II, for vice president.

Sotto was the campaign manager of the neophyte senator’s father, the late action star Fernando Poe Jr, in his failed presidential bid in 2004. He is a staunch defender of Poe against critics questioning her Philippine citizenship and residency. 

In a SWS survey conducted from September 2 to 5, Sotto ranked 1st, with 54% of respondents saying they would vote for him if elections were held on the day they were polled. 

8. Former senator Richard ‘Dick’ Gordon

Gordon ran for president in 2010, then for senator in 2013 but lost in both bids.

He is running under his own political party, Bagumbayan, but is a guest candidate of both the Poe-Escudero and UNA slates

In 2013, Gordon got the 13th spot, making him eligible to replace Poe if she gets disqualified over questions on her citizenship. He earlier admitted that both LP and UNA asked him to file disqualification cases against Poe. He said he refused to do so, as he is “not opportunistic.” 

In the September SWS survey, Gordon ranked 10th as the most preferred senatorial candidate.

9. Former senator Juan Miguel ‘Migz’ Zubiri

Like Gordon, Zubiri was a 2013 official UNA bet who is now a guest candidate under the Binay and Poe slates.

He resigned in 2011 after witnesses came out to expose fraud in the 2007 senatorial race, where he narrowly edged out Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. Zubiri had strongly denied any involvement in election fraud.

In 2007, Zubiri ran under Team Unity, the slate of former president Gloria Arroyo, who continues to be hounded by allegations of “”robbing” FPJ of the presidency in 2004.

The former senator said he was never implicated in any corruption issue, and will work best as an independent candidate.

Zubiri ranked 8th in the September SWS survey.

10. Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno

The Manila vice mayor is running under Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. Poe and Escudero attended the ceremonial launch of his senatorial bid. He is among the first 3 candidates to be endorsed by the tandem.

Moreno has introduced himself as a “certified dating basurero, dating sidecar boy (certified former garbage man, former sidecar driver).” He was born in Manila with 18 years of experience in local legislation. His campaign slogan is “Pursigido, Isko Moreno (Determined, Isko Moreno).”

Moreno is also an “adopted” candidate of the Miriam Santiago-Bongbong Marcos Senate lineup.

11. Senator Ralph Recto

Recto was adopted by the Poe-Escudero tandem despite being a member of the ruling Liberal Party and a part of the administration senatorial slate.

Early on, Poe said Recto would be a good addition to their senatorial slate because of his expertise in budget and finance.

He ranked 3rd as most preferred senatorial candidate in the SWS September poll.

Recto skipped the proclamation, as LP earlier imposed restrictions on senatorial bets shared with other teams. The senator sent a representative to speak on his behalf.

Marikina Representative and coalition spokesman Miro Quimbo earlier warned administration candidates that they shouldn’t be seen on stage with other presidential and vice presidential bets. (READ: LP-led coalition sets rule for shared senatorial candidates

12. Susan “Toots” Ople

Migrant workers’ advocate Ople was the last name to be finalized in the lineup. Poe only called her on Saturday, October 24, a day after Poe informed former senator Ping Lacson that he is out of the slate.

Ople, who is running under the Nacionalista Party, is a guest candidate of both the Poe and Binay slates. She is also endorsed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Ople ran for senator in 2010 under NP but lost.

OFWs, aside from foundlings, are among the people cited by Poe whenever she defends her citizenship. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.