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No ‘vote straight’: Sara explains endorsing 13 candidates for 12 Senate seats

MANILA – Presidento Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio on Wednesday said her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) will leave it to the voters to pick among the administration coalition’s 13 senatorial candidates, as election rules limit a voter to only 12 slots.

The Commission on Elections has said “over-voting,” or voting beyond 12 in the Senate race will render all their votes for the position invalid.

Duterte-Carpio explained that the 13 candidates approached her party and that she had no choice but to help them in the campaign.

“Binibigay na namin sa mga tao, sa mga individual voters kung sino ang 12 na pipiliin nila sa 13 candidates na tinutulungan ng Hugpong ng Pagbabago,” Duterte-Carpio told reporters after HNP’s campaign sortie in Mariveles, Bataan.

(We are leaving it to the voters which 12 among the 13 candidates that Hugpong ng Pagbabago helps they will vote for.)

“Kaya hindi namin mine-mention na 13 ang candidates na dinadala namin. If you can listen sa mga rallies namin, hindi namin sinasabi, ang pine-present lang namin yung kandidato, at hinahayaan lang namin ang mga botante na pumili sa mga candidates na nasa stage.”

(That is why we don’t mention that we have 13 candidates. If you listen to our rallies, we just present our candidates and we just let the voters choose.)

Traditionally, political parties with complete lineups of 12 candidates urge voters to “vote straight.” Duterte-Carpio acknowledged that HNP cannot do this as this will invalidate a voter’s vote.

When asked who she will vote for among the 13, Duterte said she will decide based on track record, plans for the development of the country, and support for her father. 

“Unang-una track record, kung ako pipili ng 12, track record at kung ano yung sinasabi niya na gagawin niya sa Senado para sa pag-unlad ng ating bayan and pangatlo yung pagsuporta niya sa administration ni President Duterte,” she told reporters in Mariveles, Bataan on Wednesday.

(First of all, track record. If I were to choose 12, track record and what the candidate says he will do in the Senate for the development of our country. And third, his support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.)

HNP candidates include re-electionists Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Sonny Angara, Cynthia Villar, and JV Ejercito, as well as Pia Cayetano, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who are hoping to make a Senate comeback.

Completing the HNP slate are President Rodrigo Duterte’s former political adviser Francis Tolentino, Senate race newcomers former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, former police chief Ronald Dela Rosa, Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu, former journalist Jiggy Manicad, and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.

HNP originally had 14 candidates, but former lawmaker and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque dropped out of the race for health reasons.

The HNP slate is separate from the leaner team of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakad ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which fields Dela Rosa, Go, Mangudadatu, Pimentel, and Tolentino.

Duterte-Carpio also defended her slate from criticism that it is composed of old names in politics even if her party is promising “change.”

“Wala din naman kasing mga senators na tumatakbo. We have new people in the slate, nandyan si Bong Go who comes from business[-oriented] family. Hindi siya pulitiko, si Bato Dela Rosa who comes from the Philippine National Police, Francis Tolentino, who used to be a lawyer, and of course Jiggy Manicad, coming from being a journalist to running for senate,” she said.

(There’s not a lot of individuals running for senators. We have new people in the slate. There’s Bong Go who comes from a business-oriented family. He’s not a politician. There’s Bato Dela Rosa who comes from the Philippine National Police, Francis Tolentino who used to be a lawyer, and of course Jiggy Manicad who is coming from being a journalist to running for Senate.)

“Hindi naman lahat ano, old politicians, merong kaming mga new din, hati-hati din.”

(Not all are old politicians. We have new faces too.)

Meanwhile, Duterte-Carpio said mounting a possible presidential run in 2022 to succeed her father is not yet on her mind, as some of her supporters tease her as the country’s next president.

“Masyado pang malayo ang 2022… It’s not yet time to think about it,” she said.

(The year 2022 is still too far. It’s not yet time to think about it.)

“Iyan ay dapat ipagdasal for guidance and wisdom, dahil kung para sa iyo iyan magiging madali dahil nandyan ang diyos na magbubukas lahat ng mga opportunities.”

(We will pray for guidance and wisdom. If it’s really meant for you, it will be easy because God will open all the opportunities for you.)