BY PETER TABINGO and WENDELL VIGILIA
FORMER Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has a simple formula for defeating the Duterte administration’s bet in the 2022 general elections: avoid splitting votes.
This central idea of uniting various groups is behind “1Sambayan,” a broad coalition of political and advocacy groups which was formally launched yesterday with a singular mission – defeat the administration ticket in next year’s polls.
Aside from Del Rosario, among other 1Sambayan leaders are former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
Major organizations in the coalition are the Liberal Party; party-list groups Bayan Muna, Akbayan, and Magdalo; and labor, urban poor, and religious bodies.
The other 1Sambayan convenors are former Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro FSC, Fr. Albert Alejo, Rear Adm. (ret) Rommel Ong, former Negros Occidental governor Rafael Coscolluela, former Commission on Audit commissioner Heidi Mendoza, and former Partido ng Manggagawa Rep. Rene Magtubo.
Carpio, coalition chairman and lead convenor, said for all groups which have signed up, commitment to unity is non-negotiable. This goes for political parties which might be backing other names as well as potential candidates for president, vice president, or senator.
“The candidates themselves understand the need to field only one, unified slate. All of them understand that if the democratic forces will field two or more candidates, the democratic forces will most probably lose,” the retired magistrate said.
Carpio said opposition has no chance of winning if it will not unite and field a common candidates.
“We have discussed this, again and again, and this is the understanding of everybody: That unless we are united, we cannot win in 2022,” he said.
Carpio said while he believes that they will have the majority’s support in 2022, the majority can easily be reduced to become the minority if they are divided, like what happened in 2016 when Sen. Grace Poe decided to seek the presidency independently while the Liberal Party fielded former interior secretary Manuel Roxas. Then Vice President Jejomar Binay also sought the presidency.
Carpio, who is one of the President’s staunchest critics, said the “realization” that all opposition forces have to remain united to win is the “unifying force” behind the coalition.
“I say 1Sambayan was formed to ensure this goal (unifying the opposition),” he said during the open forum. “The (prospective) candidates, themselves when we talked to them… all of them understand that if the democratic forces will field one or two candidates, the democratic forces will probably lose.”
Even before yesterday’s event, 1Sambayan has interviewed several high-profile political figures whose names have been floated as potential standard bearers come the 2022 campaign, Carpio said.
They are Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno’ Domagoso, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and Senators Nancy Binay and Grace Poe.
Carpio said “five or six” more names submitted to the coalition have yet to sit down for an interview.
“We have talked to the proposed candidates but none of them has declared (their intention to run.) These are not just candidates for president but also possible bets for vice president. We are accepting nominations from everyone. We will go through the process but, at the end of the day, we will choose only one slate,” he said.
Two names that 1Sambayan rejected outright: Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte and Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
“We are a coalition of democratic forces. We reject those who are identified with authoritarianism, we reject those who are responsible for extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and abet EJKs, and those who violate human rights. President Duterte is the leading exponent of authoritarianism, and I don’t think the daughter of the President will qualify under our coalition,” Carpio explained.
On Pacquiao, he said the boxing icon’s public pronouncements make him an unlikely choice.
“We don’t agree with his position on extrajudicial killings and he is also for the death penalty although he quotes the bible. It would be difficult for us to consider him considering his affiliation with President Duterte,” Carpio said.
Pacquiao is president of PDP-Laban, Duterte’s party.
Initial plans for the selection process involve two steps: winnability to be determined by public preference through online and commissioned surveys; and screening by the convenors as to a candidate’s track record, stand on major national issues, and platform of governance.
“All those who joined the coalition have agreed to respect the decision of the convenors.
We have discussed this again and again,” Carpio said.
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares was more emphatic.
“Many of us are here because we agree that we all want a united opposition to resoundingly defeat the forces of tyranny that has ruled this country in the last five years.
The most important thing that unites us here is our recognition that what is at stake here is not only the survival of the activists… of the opposition … of the various sectors: it is the survival of the Filipino people and if only for that, this coalition is worth fighting and working for,” he said.
Morales said failures of the Duterte government are a major driving force for those who joined 1Sambayan.
“Sa dami ng namamatay at nagugutom tuloy pa rin ang mga nangungurakot. In fact, inamin ng president na corruption is getting worse. (In the face of so many deaths and widespread hunger, corruption remains rampant. In fact, the President himself admitted corruption is getting worse),” she said.
“Paano naman tayong hindi makikialam? (How can we not get involved?) How can our conscience not be pricked into doing something to help alleviate the sufferings of our countrymen? Have we been gorgonized to insensibility that we can no longer feel the agony of life?” Morales added.
Carpio asked the people to “reject all those identified with dictatorship and authoritarianism” and “those responsible for or who abet extrajudicial killings and whose mantra is kill, kill, kill.”
“The Filipino people should reject all those who violate human rights… who plundered the government… who refuse to defend or protect our national territory and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea for these are the people who have held back the progress and development of the country. These are the people responsible for the poverty and misery of the Filipino people. These are the people who have robbed us of our national pride and dignity,” he said.
Carpio also scored the administration’s “mishandling” of the government’s response to the pandemic, saying that instead of focusing on effective measures to contain the pandemic and jump-start economic recovery, the administration “wasted precious time and resources on Charter change, shutting down media, threatening businesses with cancellation of franchises, threatening academic freedom of universities and terrorizing legitimate dissenters with surveillance and arrests.”
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said it is still early to talk about the 2022 elections and politics but wished 1Sambayan luck in their efforts to prepare for the 2022 elections. –With Jocelyn Montemayor