The Generic 5
Guest candidates” rise to a new level in the lead-up to the May 2022 senatorial elections. Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto, the first to declare as presidential and vice presidential aspirants, have 13 senatorial candidates—Sen. Richard Gordon, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sen. Joel Villanueva, Gov. Francis Escudero, former vice president Jejomar Binay, Rep. Loren Legarda, former senator Gringo Honasan, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, former senator JV Ejercito, former Quezon City (QC) mayor Herbert Bautista, former agriculture secretary Manny Piñol, former Makati representative Monsour del Rosario, and advocate Powee Capino.
The Manny Pacquiao-Lito Atienza senatorial slate of 10 candidates also contains the names of what might be called the Generic 5—Gordon, Zubiri, Villanueva, Escudero, and Binay, in addition to their “exclusive” candidates—former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares, Lutgardo Barbo, Elmer Labog, and Raffy Tulfo. Rep. Loren Legarda is a common candidate in the Lacson and Pacquiao slates.
The Leni Robredo-Kiko Pangilinan senatorial slate of 11 candidates also includes the same Generic 5, the exclusives being former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Sen. Leila de Lima, former Ifugao representative Teddy Baguilat Jr., lawyer Chel Diokno, and lawyer Alex Lacson. The Isko Moreno and Willie Ong senatorial slate has only three names so far—Muslim and women well-being advocate Samira Gutoc, entrepreneur Carl Balita, and former QC councilor Jopet Sison.
Well-regarded activists Leody de Guzman and Walden Bello, also presidential and vice presidential aspirants, have the following guest candidates—Elmer Labog, Sonny Matula, and Neri Colmenares. They also endorse lawyer Chel Diokno, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and Sen. Leila de Lima.
The Lacson, Pacquiao, Moreno, Robredo, and De Guzman formations, ranged against the Duterte administration bets, may be collectively called the “inclusive opposition.”
There are also two “inclusive administration” formations. The Duterte administration’s Ronald dela Rosa and Bong Go presidential and vice presidential tandem has an eight-member slate—DICT Secretary Gringo Honasan, former DPWH secretary Mark Villar, former chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, former PACC commissioner Greco Belgica, Deputy Speaker Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, actor Robin Padilla, and broadcaster Rey Langit.
Bongbong Marcos is the other Duterte-linked candidate. So far, presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos has not named a vice presidential candidate or a Senate slate. An interesting possibility is the inclusive administration and the inclusive opposition sharing more candidates. Gringo Honasan, a common candidate of the Dela Rosa-Go and Lacson-Sotto slates, already bridges the conceptual opposition-administration divide.
So, who will the Generic 5 endorse among the standard-bearers of their slates? Sen. Frank Drilon, a key adviser of Vice President Robredo, says the agreement with them is that they will not endorse any presidential and vice presidential candidates.
The inclusive opposition has found a partial win-win solution. If the Generic 5 win in the elections, the Lacson, Pacquiao, and Robredo teams can all claim five sure Senate slots. No painful senatorial slate shutouts!
This new political formation epitomizes matrix politics. As in the concept of a matrix organization in public and business management, political parties now appear like administrative stables under an administrative head, from which are drawn players to form ad hoc project teams headed by a project manager.
Under these crisscrossing circumstances, programs of the government no longer really matter. Since there is no block voting, voters will likely cherry-pick from the list of Senate candidates. Strong brand names from political dynasties, media, movies, and sports will trump issues and platforms of government.
Matrix politics is an innovative unification tool. But it is a solution applied at a level that is not the problem. It should have been applied by the inclusive opposition at the presidential level, where a common presidential candidate is agreed upon by contending parties having different vice presidential and senatorial candidates.
Can this single opposition standard-bearer formula be retrofitted into the current state of play? The Duterte camp is expected to effect some unification before the Nov. 15 deadline for substitution. Will it happen in the inclusive opposition camp? Unlikely. The exclusion of Neri Colmenares from the Robredo senatorial slate might even spawn two slightly different slates.
The elections are a long 200 days away. Can the players refocus from the intramurals to the final contest in the elections in time? Hopefully, fanatical followers will stop wagging their candidates.
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