2019 senatorial race preview: Newer names enter Magic 12, political scions closing in

July 9, 2018 - 9:30 PM
New and old faces figure in the latest Pulse Asia survey of possible senatorial candidates and voters' sentiments. (Artwork by Uela Badayos)

Pulse Asia has released another survey on the 2019 Senatorial elections. The new list reveals new names, big movers, and some projected powerhouses still far from inching into the coveted Magic 12.

Ten months to go

Pulse Asia has released a new survey on the projected participants in next year’s elections. Since it last survey conducted in March, the political parties have given a glimpse of their projected lineups for next year.

The June survey features answers from a pool of 1,800 participants.

For some, the recent federal constitution draft prepared by the Consultative Committee could pave the way for a massive upheaval some time before the scheduled election.

The podium

The top of the list shows very little change in the two months since the March 2018 survey was released.

Sen. Grace Poe still leads the list, scoring 99 on awareness with 67.4 percent of survey takers willing to vote for her, just slightly below the 70 percent she notched in March.

Rep. Pia Cayetano (Taguig) rose to second, taking the place of Sen. Cynthia Villar, who has slid to third.

Incumbents Sen. Sonny Angara, Sen. Nancy Binay, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio; Bureau of Corrections Director General Ronald dela Rosa; former senators Sergio Osmeña III and Lito Lapid and former senate president Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III are also among those who are still within the Magic 12.

The newcomers in the Magic 12 are brothers former senator Jinggoy Estrada and incumbent Sen. JV Ejercito.

Inching upward

Scions of two of the country’s most influential political clans also continue to inch toward taking a slot in the coveted Magic 12 of the projected race.

Incumbent Sen. Benigno “Bam” Aquino III is now within striking distance at 13th, moving up one spot to exchange places with Gov. Imee Marcos (Ilocos Norte), now 14th.

Old faces become new names

The most surprising development in the recent survey is the appearance of new names who appeared in neither of the initial projected senatorial slates released by the PDP-Laban and the Liberal Party.

Columnist and broadcaster Ramon “Mon” Tulfo is the highest placer among these names, landing at 17th.

His younger brother Erwin appeared at 11th in the March survey, but was not included in the recent list.

The veteran columnist and broadcaster was thrown into the limelight when his younger siblings former Tourism secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and broadcater Ben Tulfo were involved in the controversial P60-million ad deal between the People’s Television Network and Ben’s BITAG Media, a blocktimer for the network tapped to feature Department of Tourism ads.

Tulfo in a Inquirer column titled “Setting the record straight” absolved Wanda of wrongdoing and argued that it was Ben who should be blamed for coming up with the questioned deal.

The columnist’s criticism of Wanda’s lawyer Ferdinand Topacio also led to a brief public spat.

A former chief executive has also landed also on the list.

Former president Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Pampanga) has landed at the 24th spot. She was previously named by former senate president Pimentel and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as one of the possible new additions to the PDP-Laban’s 2019 slate.

Meanwhile, actor-turned politician Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. has also made an unexpected appearance on the list, landing 19th.

Revilla made headlines recently after a cellphone he kept in his cell at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center was seized by officials. The discovery was made after a “jailfie” Revilla posted on Facebook to commemorate the fourth year anniversary of his detainment at the facility went viral

The former senator and Cavite governor has been detained since 2014 following allegations that he received millions worth of kickbacks for his involvement in the alleged pork barrel corruption scheme.

Expected hopefuls

Other figures named by either the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-LABAN or the Liberal Party to be part of their respective senatorial slates have also appeared.

Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, expected to run in 2019 despite his deflection of the speculation, improved to 26th from 36th in March.

The LP’s projected hopefuls have also made the list. Actress Agot Isidro, last reported to be in talks with the party leadership to run for the Senate, leads the LP’s hopefuls with the 27th spot.

Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada, (34th), De La Salle University College of Law dean Jose Manuel Diokno (40th), Lawyer Barry Guitierrez (50th), Rep. Gary Alejano (51st) who are expected to be part of the LP’s slate also made the list.

Liberal Party supporters Manuel Luis Quezon III (43rd) and Rep. Teddy Baguilat (49th) also made the list despite not yet being confirmed as part of its slate.

Opposition allies lagging

A few names associated with the left side of the political spectrum have also landed in the cellar of the July 2018 survey.

Former Agriculture secretary Rafael Mariano and former Social Welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo have appeared on the 55th and 56th spots, respectively.

Mariano and Taguiwalo were among the nominees chosen by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to be part of the first President Rodrigo Duterte’s initial cabinet, as part of the then-ongoing peace talks between the government and the Communist Party.

After serving for some time, the appointments of both Mariano and Taguiwalo were rejected by the Commission on Appointments in 2017.

One name associated with the previous administration and a vocal critic of the current has appeared at the end of the list.

Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay has the last place on the list, with an awareness score of 6 and just 0.1 percent of the survey participants willing to vote for him.

The veteran lawyer has been urged by administration critics to run in next year’s elections, but has yet to confirm his plans for 2019. — with reports from Jasmine Salanga