October frenzy

October 1, 2021

Another historic first will be realized by the Philippines beginning today, from 1 to 8 October, with the start of the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (CoC) for the 2022 Elections. Unlike before, there will no longer be festivities, no more parades, no caravans or motorcades, neither will there be marching bands that will accompany the candidates in their trek to the Commission on Elections (Comelec)office. The filing for national candidates will not be in Intramuros but at the Sofitel tent in Pasay City, with strict traffic rerouting. Candidates’ companions will be limited to three for national candidates, and two for party-list candidates. Similar guidelines have been issued for CoC filing in the provinces for local candidates.

Knowing how Filipinos think, there will surely be a workaround. We can expect send-off and welcoming parties before and after the filing of the CoC, potential super spreader events. We hope that the virus will be not passed around with the simultaneous and successive movement to and from Comelec. Considering that several candidates are senior citizens, extra precautions must be observed.

As what usually happens during Presidential elections, we expect several interesting personalities vying for the top government post, as Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of the Philippines from 2022 to 2028. Most of them may be ruled to be nuisance candidates, with overly exaggerated campaign promises enough for us not to take them seriously.

October can also be the first month where voter registration will coincide with the filing of CoC, thereby stretching the Comelec manpower to their fullest capabilities. For this month, Comelec officials must be given protection and be treated as frontliners, similar to medical health workers. We can imagine the number of people they will be meeting on a daily basis in October.

The main event this month will surely be the filing of the CoC for the top two positions. So far, we only have a handful of Presidentiables who have announced their candidacy — Senator Ping Lacson, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and former Senator Bongbong Marcos. The latest Pulse Asia survey revealed Davao Mayor Sara Duterte as the leader, but she has previously announced that she will not run. PDP Laban’s nominee, Senator Bong Go, has not accepted his nomination. The Liberal Party’s main bet, Vice President Leni Robredo, has remained silent. Other politicians expected to run also have not announced, i.e., Senator Dick Gordon, Senator Grace Poe, former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

It can be 2016 all over again — where candidates would be making late announcements and build from the momentum therefrom. The political strategy now in the Philippines is not to announce first, but to be among the last. As such, we can expect Friday, 8 October, the last day for filing, to be the busiest day for Comelec.

All told, the first week of October shall put an end to all the talks on who will run for President. After years and months of speculation, we will be witnesses to whose political playbook is still in line with their plans. Some say that the Presidency is a matter of destiny, yet the truth is that it takes years of planning and maneuverings. In the end, the presidency goes to the person who wants it the most.