2022 Philippine Elections

On day 1 of COC filing, fighting COVID-19 on top of aspirants’ agendas

Dwight de Leon
On day 1 of COC filing, fighting COVID-19 on top of aspirants’ agendas

Raffy De Guzman/Rappler

Familiar faces, and even obscure personalities, have a thing or two to say about ending the dark pandemic chapter of the Philippines

Politicians and even ordinary people who flocked to a hotel in Pasay on Friday, October 1, to formally throw their hat into the 2022 national elections ring had a common variable in their platforms not seen in the candidacy filing for elections past: finding ways to overcome a pandemic.

After all, the Philippines is already 18 months into the raging health crisis that has crippled its economic growth, as active coronavirus cases have remained beyond the 100,000-mark.

There were different strokes for different folks. The aspirants’ pitches to solve the over-a-year-old problem ranged from sound to outrageous, coming from either political veterans or obscure newcomers.

Bizarre solutions

How do you actually address the COVID-19 pandemic? For presidential aspirant Laurencio Jun Yulaga, his solution was so outlandish, there may be no point in saying: the following is not backed by science.

“Uupo ka sa kuryente, 12,000 volts, automatic, wala ka nang COVID-19,” said Yulaga, who claimed to have graduated from Harvard University.

(An electrocution of 12,000 votes can automatically cure you of COVID-19.)

Leysander Ordenes, who is gunning for the presidency, did not offer a concrete strategy yet for the Philippines to defeat COVID-19, but the “pandemic warfare mitigator,” based on a graphics material his companion showed to the press, said he has the credentials for it.

“In year 2004, when there was SARS-CoV1, I was one of the pandemic mitigators, the only Filipino health [worker] in East Africa, especially the countries of Rwanda [and] Uganda. Now, I came back to help our country recover faster from this pandemic,” Ordenes said.

Relevant credentials

Wearing a doctor’s coat, Jose Montemayor, a cardiologist, also filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) at Sofitel on Friday. His ambitious promise: to end COVID-19 once and for all.

“One who is running for president must have an ample knowledge on what the effects of this virus are,” Montemayor said.

His filing of COC highlights the inevitable collision between the world of politics and medicine as the 2022 elections approach, and with no end in sight for the country’s COVID-19 fight.

In September, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, upon the declaration of his presidential bid, chose physician Willie Ong as running mate, in an apparent attempt to show to the public that, if elected, he would let the medical professionals lead the country’s pandemic response.

Serious about a common goal

The more popular candidates – who have had years of experience working in the legislature – wasted no time using COVID-19 as a talking point during their brief speeches to the press right after COC filing.

House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda and Senator Risa Hontiveros, both hoping to secure a Senate seat in the 19th Congress, highlighted the importance of striking a balance between health care and the economy.

“Ang kailangan po na lider ng ating bansa sa panahon ng pandemya ay isang malawak ang karanasan hindi lamang sa paggawa ng mahahalagang batas ayon sa pandemic recovery, kundi na rin iyong marunong tumugon sa pangangailangan ng kalusugan, pangkabuhayan at edukasyon,” said Legarda, who represents Antique in the lower chamber.

(The leader our country needs during a pandemic is one with vast experience not only in crafting laws on pandemic recovery, but one who also knows how to address needs on health, livelihood, and education.)

“Sa ngayon, hindi lamang COVID-19 ang pandemya. Nariyan ang iba’t-iba pang mga sakit: ang lumpong ekonomiya, ang pagkalugi ng mga maliliit na tindahan, ang pagkagahaman ng mga may kapangyarihan, at ang pangungurakot ng iilan,” Hontiveros also noted.

(Nowadays, COVID-19 is not the only problem, but also other illnesses, such as a crippled economy, bankrupt businesses, abuse of power, and corruption.)

Senator Manny Pacquiao, who is seeking to replace his ally-turned-enemy President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang, made the same pitch to the media.

“Uunahin po nating resolbahin ngayon ang hinaharap nating pandemya na matagal na nating hindi nabibigyan ng solusyon, para makabalik ang magandang ekonomiya natin,” Pacquiao said.

(We will address first the pandemic which has been unsolved for the longest time, so that we could usher in economic recovery.)

The first day of the candidacy filing had a turnout of only 41 applications. There were six COCs for president, three for vice president, 14 for senators, and 18 for party-list groups.

The number of filers is expected to surge in the following week. – Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.