UPDATE: PHILIPPINE SENATORIAL ELECTION, 2013

CYBERSPACE, APRIL 29, 2013 (WIKIPEDIA) The 2013 election to the Senate of the Philippines will be the 31st election to the Senate of the Philippines.

It will held on Monday, May 13, 2013 to elect 12 of the 24 seats in the Senate. Together with those elected in 2010, the candidates elected in this election shall comprise the 16th Congress.

The senators elected in 2010 will serve until June 30, 2016, while the senators elected in this election will serve up to June 30, 2019. The elections to the House of Representatives as well as local elections will occur on the same date.

The Philippines uses plurality-at-large voting for seats in the Senate: the twelve candidates with the highest number of votes win the twelve seats up for election. The Senate seat vacated by President Benigno Aquino III in 2010 will be among the twelve seats to be put for election.

While the Philippines is a multi-party democracy since 1987, parties have not been able to complete a 12-candidate slate. This means parties have to form coalitions in order to complete a slate, this lessens the number of slates the voters have to choose for.

In this election, the two coalitions that completed 12-candidate slates are Team PNoy led by the President Benigno Aquino III's Liberal Party, and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of former president Joseph Estrada's Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and Vice President Jejomar Binay's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan; the two slates used to share three common candidates, until they were dropped by UNA.

Other coalitions are the left-leaning Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan, the Catholic Church-supported Ang Kapatiran, Bangon Pilipinas Party of televangelist Eddie Villanueva, the Democratic Party of the Philippines, the Social Justice Society and several independents.

Philippine senatorial elections are done via the plurality-at-large voting system: the entire country is one at-large "district", where a voter can vote up to twelve people (one vote per candidate), with the twelve candidates with the highest amount of votes deemed being elected.

Senators who are currently serving their second consecutive term are term limited, although they may run again in 2016. Only half of the seats are up in every senatorial election.

Each party has a slate of as many candidates as it can muster, although they don't usually exceed a 12-person ticket.

If a party can't complete a full ticket, they may invite "guest candidates" to complete the ticket. They may even come other slates, and these guest candidates may not participate in electoral rallies by their adoptive party(ies), or may not cooperate at the Senate if elected.

A coalition of different parties may be formed in cases where no party has the ability to complete a full ticket; a party may not include their entire slate on a coalition ticket. Independents may become guest candidates and be included in coalitions.

While the Philippines is a multi-party system, parties tend to group themselves into two major coalitions in midterm elections (Lakas-Laban vs NPC in 1995, PPC vs Puwersa ng Masa in 2001); sometimes a third, but weaker, coalition is formed.

This is opposed to senatorial elections in presidential election years where most presidential candidates also have senatorial slates. This results in an election where voters can choose between two major political forces.

Winning candidates are proclaimed by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) sitting as the National Board of Canvassers.

Candidates are proclaimed senators-elect if the thirteenth place candidate no longer has a mathematical chance of surpassing that candidate.

Post-proclamation disputes are handled by the Senate Electoral Tribunal, a body composed of six senators and three justices from the Supreme Court.

Thirteenth Senate seat

On December 12, 2011, incumbent Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was elected as a Judge of the International Criminal Court. As a result, she was expected to vacate her Senate seat after the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, which ended on May 29, 2012, a year before the 2013 election.

Once Santiago vacates her Senate seat, an additional Senator would be elected in the upcoming election to serve the remaining three years of her unexpired term.

If this happens, it would be the second instance in which 13 Senators were elected, with the first one taking place during the 2001 Senate election when Gregorio Honasan was elected to serve the remaining three years of former Senator Teofisto Guingona, who vacated his Senate seat after being appointed as Vice-President prior to the election.

However, the likelihood of a thirteenth Senator being elected is low though since Santiago has already stated that she won't quit her seat.

Coalitions

2010 election

As the 2010 Senate election was held concurrently with the presidential election, most of the presidential candidates also put up their respective senatorial slates.

These slates shared several candidates, although most of the shared candidates only campaigned with one slate.

The presidential election was won by the Liberal Party's Benigno Aquino III, defeating Joseph Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (Force of the Filipino Masses; PMP); the vice presidential election was won by Estrada's running mate, Jejomar Binay of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (Philippine Democratic Party-People Power; PDP-Laban).

The Senate election resulted in a chamber where no party had more than four seats.

Outgoing Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile of the PMP emerged as a compromise candidate in the election for Senate President when the Liberal Party's candidate, Franklin Drilon, could not muster majority of the votes in the Senate against defeated presidential candidate Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party.

In the Senate Presidential election, Enrile defeated Alan Peter Cayetano of the Nacionalistas. Aside from Cayetano and Enrile voting for each other, only Cayetano's sister Pia and Joker Arroyo voted against Enrile; the three then constituted the Senate's minority bloc.

Thus, most of the competing political forces in the 2010 election were united within the Senate for most of the 15th Congress.

United Nationalist Alliance

The PMP and the PDP-Laban signed a coalition agreement on April 4, 2012 for the 2013 elections, forming the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). The two parties were formerly partners in the United Opposition in the 2007 election, and Estrada and Binay were running mates during the 2010 presidential election.

Aquilino Pimentel III, PDP-Laban president, has stated that the UNA's senatorial slate is now more than twelve members and is in the process of trimming down; he had also expressed reservations on the inclusion of Juan Miguel Zubiri, of whom he had won an election protest after the 2007 election.

On May 3, 2012, Zubiri took an oath to become a member of the PMP; Estrada and Binay were optimistic that Pimentel and Zubiri will be able to reconcile their differences prior to the start of the campaign.

On May 10, 2012, UNA announced its first five senatorial candidates: incumbent senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Gregorio Honasan, Cagayan Representative Jack Enrile, San Juan Representative JV Ejercito, and 2010 senatorial candidate Joey de Venecia.

On June 11, 2012, UNA formally included Zubiri in its line-up, together with Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Zambales Representative Mitos Magsaysay.

On June 28, 2012, Pimentel officially declined his spot in the UNA line-up, citing Zubiri's continued inclusion in it.

A week later, the commission accredited UNA as a political coalition, although it may face opposition from the use of the "UNA" acronym from the United Negros Alliance, a local political party from Negros Occidental.

The UNA announced on August that former senators Richard Gordon and Ernesto Maceda were a part of their ticket, and that Senator Loren Legarda would be one of the last three candidates yet to be named in their ticket.

UNA spokesperson JV Bautista also said that Pimentel has took a leave of absence as PDP-Laban's presidency, and that PDP-Laban will not issue Pimentel's certificate of nomination as the latter is running under the Liberal Party. However, Pimentel denied that he took a leave of absence from the PDP-Laban presidency.

On the first day of filing of certificates of candidacies, senatorial nominees of UNA filed theirs at the Commission on Elections national offices at Intramuros.

Joey de Venecia withdrew from the election as he cited his business endeavors as reasons for his withdrawal; speculation was rife when Lorenzo Tañada III was one of the persons considered to fill in de Venecia's slot in the ticket, but Binay disclosed that Tañada was not in their choices "any more."

On October 4, UNA announced that Binay's daughter Nancy was their 12th nominee.

After perennial non-attendance of the three common candidates shared with Team PNoy, UNA announced on February 21 that they will drop the three from their ticket. UNA secretary-general Toby Tiangco cited Team PNoy's campaign manager Franklin Drilon's refusal to allow the three to participate in their campaign.

Team PNoy

The Liberal Party was open on creating coalitions or alliances with other parties for the 2013 election, as long as the politicians have the same principles as them. Secretary of Budget and Management Florencio Abad said on April 7, 2012 that it was too early to make conclusions.

Two days later, the Liberals revealed 14 names possible candidates in their ticket, these includes candidates that are being considered in the UNA ticket; this means there may be common names in both tickets.

On April 2012, the Nacionalista Party is choosing between UNA and the LP tickets, with party secretary-general Alan Peter Cayetano saying that it is too early to decide on such matters. The verdict in the impeachment of Renato Corona may affect their decision.

On May 17, 2012, Aquino revealed the party's four sure senatorial bets: Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, TESDA Chairman Joel Villanueva, and 2010 senatorial candidates Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Ruffy Biazon.[20] All four, however, are still considering their options to run for Senator.[21] On June 28, 2012, party vice chairman Senator Franklin Drilon announced the candidacy of former Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr.

Senator Francis Escudero, who formerly campaigned for the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC)'s presidential nomination in 2010 before resigning from the party and withdrawing from the race abruptly, said believes that the NPC and the Liberals "are in coalition with one another."

It was announced on July 5, 2012, that the ruling Liberal Party (LP), Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and Nacionalista Party (NP) will most likely field a common senatorial ticket in the May 2013 elections.

A meeting between Aquino and Villar agreed to coalesce for the 2013 elections, and details, such as local candidates, will be dealt upon on further meetings.

Senator and Liberal Party vice chairman Franklin Drilon cautioned though that the agreement was "not yet sealed" as the distribution of slots in the ticket will also be a factor.

The Nacionalistas had already endorsed four candidates in Senators Antonio Trillanes and Alan Peter Cayetano, and Representatives Robert Ace Barbers and Cynthia Villar.

However, NPC official and senator Tito Sotto on September said that the three-party coalition might not be pursued as the determination of candidates at the local level remain as stumbling blocks in the formation of the coalition; NPC has more local officials than the Liberals and Nacionalistas. Meanwhile, Representative Mark Villar of the Nacionalistas said that they will stay put with their coalition agreement with Liberals, and that most issues have already been resolved.

Bam Aquino, the president's cousin, and former senator Jamby Madrigal, one of the defeated presidential candidates in 2010, were sworn in as Liberal Party members.

On October 1, the president announced the administration coalition's nominees in a speech at Club Filipino. The ruling coalition, aside from the Liberals, Nacionalistas and the NPC, included the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) and Akbayan.

The three candidates common with both coalitions, namely Francis Escudero, Grace Poe and Loren Legarda went with the ruling party's proclamation rally. The three candidates were given instructions by the party leaders not to appear in the sorties of the rival coalition.

Abaya also announced that Senator Franklin Drilon will serve as their campaign manager. However, Loren Legarda, when asked with whom she will campaign with, said "I will campaign with the Filipino people."

Makabayan coalition

On June 2012, Bayan Muna (Nation First) Representative Teodoro Casiño announced his senatorial candidacy, and stated that his progressive Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Patriotic Coalition of the People) was "in touch" with the leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance to join their slate, and that joining the Liberal-led ticket would be difficult as he has significant political differences with President Aquino.

He was also amenable on rejoining the Nacionalista Party ticket which included candidates from the Makabayan coalition in the 2010 election, or running on his own.

UNA spokesperson Toby Tiangco said that he was unaware of any talks between UNA and Makabayan. However, on September, Casiño announced that he not joining either ticket, saying that the coalition reached a consensus on the matter to prevent him from being beholden from other politicians.

On November 8, Makabayan announced the adoption of five guest candidates: Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Aquilino Pimentel III, Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe.

The six candidates of Makabayan would pursue a progressive agenda.

Other coalitions, parties and independents

The other parties' tickets which were allowed by the commission to run were Ang Kapatiran, the Bangon Pilipinas Party, the Democratic Party of the Philippines, the Social Justice Society and several independents.

Independents Edward Hagedorn and Ramon Montaño and Ang Kapatiran candidates and were included in the first batch of approved candidacies, while the candidates of the Democratic Party, of the Social Justice Society, and independent Ricardo Penson were approved on the second batch.

The Centist Democratic Party of the Philippines, headed by Cagayan de Oro representative Rufus Rodriguez did not name candidates for the election; they instead endorsed Francis Escudero, Aquilino Pimentel III and Bam Aquino, all candidates of Team PNoy.
 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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