Election lawyers join forces to back Macalintal for senator

Paterno Esmaquel II
Election lawyers join forces to back Macalintal for senator
Now an independent senatorial bet, veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal vows to fight for higher discounts for senior citizens

MANILA, Philippines – Though rivals in court, the Philippines’ leading election lawyers joined forces on Wednesday, October 17, as their friend and fellow lawyer Romulo Macalintal filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator.

Wearing not a lawyer’s suit but a vest with his campaign nickname “Maca-Romy,” the lawyer known as “Romy Mac” submitted his COC to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday, the last day of COC filing.

Ushering him into the COC filing room were former Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr and veteran lawyers George Garcia and Beng Sardillo.

Brillantes, Garcia, and Sardillo accompanied and even raised the hands of Macalintal as they gamely posed before the cameras. 

Brillantes was the lawyer of defeated presidential bet Fernando Poe Jr in his election protest against then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Macalintal’s client, in 2004.

Garcia is the lawyer of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in his pending election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, who is represented by Macalintal. 

Sardillo is Macalintal’s co-counsel defending Robredo.

Macalintal said, “Bakit ako matatakot tumakbo eh alam kong magagaling ang aking mga election lawyers?” (Why will I be afraid to run when I know that I have good election lawyers?)

“This is one for the books,” he added. 

“Ito’y pagpapatunay lamang na kaming mga abogado, hindi kami magkakaaway. Kaya baka nakikinig ‘yung mga supporters ni Marcos, mga supporters ni FPJ. Hindi kami magkakaaway. Magkakaibigan kaming mga abogado. Ang magkakaaway ‘yung mga kliyente namin, ano ha. Nagtatagisan lang kami ng talino,” Macalintal also said.

(This only proves that we lawyers are not each other’s enemies. The supporters of Marcos, the supporters of FPJ, might be listening. We’re not enemies. We lawyers are friends. It’s our clients who are each other’s opponents. We lawyers just engage in a clash of wits.)

Pushing for senior citizens’ rights

Macalintal is running as an independent candidate as part of the opposition coalition.

If he wins, the 71-year-old Macalintal said he will push for bigger discounts for senior citizens.

Senior citizens, or those 60 years old and above, already enjoy a 20% discount on food and medicine. 

But Macalintal said senior citizens who reach 70 years of age should receive a bigger discount – 30%.

Meanwhile, those who reach 80 years of age should get a 40% discount, while those 90 years old and above should have a 50% discount on medicines and medical services. 

Macalintal also said he will push for an amendment to the Centenarian Law, which extends a cash gift of P100,000 to Filipinos who reach 100 years of age.

He said the P100,000 should be given in tranches – the first P30,000 when a person reaches 80 years old, the next P30,000 when the person reaches 90, and the remaining P40,000 when the person reaches 100. “And every year beyond 100, give them P100,000,” he said.

The senatorial aspirant said, “Kaya sinasabi ko, ‘pag gutom na kayo sa pagbabago, ‘pag gutom na kayo sa mga karapatan ng mga senior citizens, Maca-Romy ang inyong kailangan.” (That’s why if you’re hungry for change, if you’re hungry for rights of senior citizens, what you need is Maca-Romy.)

Responding to a reporter’s question, Macalintal said he is expecting his clients to support his senatorial bid as well. But he said he depends “largely” on senior citizens like himself.

When asked why he decided to transition from election lawyer to politician, Macalintal said in jest, “Siguro baka nahawa ako doon sa aking mga kliyente.” (Maybe I got influenced by my clients.) – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.