Eight politikos identified with either the administration and opposition are being considered to join the senatorial lineup of Senators Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who are widely believed to be running for president and vice president, respectively.
A source told the Manila Bulletin that the following politikos have been shortlisted for “united ticket” eyed by the Poe-Escudero tandem: Las Piñas City Rep. Mark Villar, Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, Taguig Rep. Lino Cayetano, House Independent Bloc Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, reelectionist Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Ralph Recto, Manila City Vice-Mayor Francisco Domagoso or Isko Moreno, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Joel Villanueva.
Of the eight prospective candidates, two— Sotto and Gatchalian— are stalwarts of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, while Villar and Cayetano belong to the Nacionalista Party (NP).
Recto is a member of the Liberal Party while Moreno is a stalwart of former President and now Manila mayor Joseph Estrada’s Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino.
Romualdez, meanwhile is the president of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s political party.
While Villanueva doesn’t have a political party, he is identified with the administration and is known as one of President Benigno Aquino III’s close friends.
His relationship with the administration appears to have soured in the past week after he claimed that allies identified with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas’ camp were behind his inclusion in the third batch of politikos charged in connection with the pork barrel scam.
The source said that a series of deliberations will be conducted in the coming weeks to formalize the entry of the eight politikos into the Poe-Escudero tandem’s senatorial lineup.
The formation of a “unity ticket” is reminiscent of the “Team Unity” formed by the Arroyo administration in 2007 midterm elections. Members of the administration-backed senatorial slate came from Lakas-CMD, NPC, LP, Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (KAMPI), Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) and Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP).