Opposition Senate bets out of top 12 in unofficial poll results

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 14) — The Senate minority bloc may be fewer in number in the incoming 18th Congress as opposition candidates trail administration allies in the top 12 senatorial candidates in the latest partial and unofficial poll results.

Partial and unofficial results from the Commission on Elections media server with around 95 percent of precincts transmitted show that the highest-ranking opposition bet is Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV at 14th with 13,745,059 votes as of 2:50 p.m.

Far behind is former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, placing 16th with 9,563,954 votes.

At 21st is human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno with 6,163,194 votes. He is followed by Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano with 4,587,252 votes at 23rd.

From the 24th to the 27th places are left-leaning Makabayan’s Neri Colmenares, followed by Otso Diretso candidates Samira Gutoc, Romulo “Romy” Macalintal, and Erin Tañada. Florin Hilbay is 29th.

Partial unofficial results closely mirrored surveys conducted by private independent pollster Pulse Asia, which was consistently dominated by administration allies.

Five of the Otso Diretso slate have conceded, with Alejano, Gutoc, Macalintal, Tañada and Hilbay all admitting defeat.

"Alam naman po namin pumasok po kami dito sa laban na ito na walang kasiguraduhan na mananalo. Alam namin na lahat kami ay babangga sa isang malaking pader, pero maliwanag naman po na kailangan pong mayroong tumayo at mayroong lumaban. We would concede the elections, but we would never concede the principles," Tañada said in a press briefing.

[Translation: We know that we joined this battle without any certainty that we would win. We know that we would be hitting a giant wall, but it is clear to us that someone needed to stand up and someone needed to fight back. We would conceded the elections, but we would never concede the principles.]

But along with their concession is their raising questions over the delayed transmission of votes to the transparency server, which was stuck for eight hours last night, the malfunctioning vote counting machines and the corrupted memory cards.

Otso Diretso campaign manager and Liberal Party President, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, said they have raised this with the Commission on Elections, but they have yet to hear from the poll body.

Roxas and Aquino

Despite a poor showing in early election results, Vice President Leni Robredo, who also serves as the chair of opposition Liberal Party, appealed for optimism and unity.

May laban pa tayong hinaharap. Hindi pa tapos ang bilangan, at kailangan pang bantayan. Ipinamalas ng ating mga kandidato at volunteers ang tapang at dedikasyon sa ating adhikain. Huwag natin ito bitawan. Paghugutan natin ng lakas ang bawat isa. Marami pa tayong kailangan gawin at marami pa tayong magagawa. Hanggang sa huli, sama-sama tayo sa labang ito,” Robredo said.

[Translation: We are still facing a battle. The counting is not yet over, and we still need to watch it. Our candidates and volunteers have shown their courage and dedication for our advocacy. Let’s not let this go. Let us get our strength from each other. We still need to do a lot of things and we can still do more. Until the end, let’s stick together in this fight.]

This was echoed by Liberal Party President, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, who is banking on the remaining votes which have not yet been transmitted.

May seven percent pa ng boto o mga 3 milyong boto na hindi pa nabibilang sa unofficial tally. Hihintayin natin ang huling resulta. Baka sakaling sa nasabing nalalabing seven percent ay manalo pa ang isa o dalawa nating mga kandidato. Mananatili tayong mapagbantay hanggang sa dulo,” Pangilinan said.

[Translation: There are still seven percent of the votes, or 3 million votes, which have not yet been counted in the unofficial tally. We will wait for the results. Maybe from that seven percent, one or two of our candidates would win. We will remain vigilant to the end.]

For now, Otso Diretso bets are saying that they are "fighting it out" for Aquino and Roxas.

But Otso Diretso seemed to have been resigned to their fate days ahead of the elections, with their spokesperson admitting to CNN Philippines that they have long expected that only Aquino and Roxas would win.

But Roxas’ chances of winning is slim. He would need 4.5 million votes to pierce through the “Magic 12.” Aquino, meanwhile, needs more than 300,000.

If both of them fail to get in, the Senate minority bloc, now composed of him, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV, will be down to just four.

Aquino will be stepping down as his first term in the Senate ends next month. Trillanes’ second consecutive term also ends in June.

But with De Lima still detained over drug charges, she has been — and will continue — to be unable to vote in the Senate, leaving the minority bloc with just three votes on the floor.

No alliance

Some Otso Diretso bets attributed their loss to their lack of resources and their limited access to political machinery, which administration-aligned candidates have.

"Naglunsad kami ng prinsipyadong kampanya para sa kabutian ng bayan. Hindi kami nagdikit sa EDSA even before the election period formally. Nag-ads na po sila, hindi pa po kami nag-ads. Talagang kinaya nila, hanggang sa bundok, narinig ko po na may mga tarpaulins sila kung saan walang tao," Gutoc said.

[Translation: We launched a principled campaign for the betterment of the nation. We did not put up posters along EDSA even before the election period. They had ads, while we did not have ads. They were really able, up to the mountains, I heard that they have tarpaulins there where there are no people.]

Malacañang said the defeat of Otso Diretso bets means that voters "yearn for a constructive – not obstructionist – Senate which will help in crafting the President’s legislative agenda."

For constitutional law professor Tony La Viña, the mistake of Otso Diretso and other opposition slates like Labor Win and the left-leaning Makabayan bloc, was their failure to form a strong alliance.

“Otso Diretso, I admire their volunteers, I admire their candidates, they would have been much better if they aligned with Grace Poe and Nancy Binay and Neri Colmenares of the left. If you have broader, from the very beginning a list of 12 [candidates] versus 12 [candidates,]” La Viña told CNN Philippines.

He added that this would have given them more resources, which Otso Diretso sorely lacked.

Otso Diretso only endorsed eight candidates coming from the Liberal Party, Akbayan, Magdalo and Aksyon Demokratiko. Makabayan came up with its own slate, borrowing some Otso Diretso candidates, like Aquino, Diokno, Gutoc and Tañada, and adding Senators Nancy Binay and Grace Poe to their mix.

However, Makabayan left out some Senate bets of Labor Win, which endorsed Colmenares, the mainstream left’s main senatorial bet.

La Viña said that the three opposition slates which backed different candidates may have left voters confused.

Still independent?

Malacañang said the Senate will remain independent, as it has always been, despite being poised to be dominated by Duterte allies.

La Viña echoed this, as independent bets will be entering the chamber next Congress.

But he said that even if the next Senate is poised to be dominated by Duterte allies, it does not mean that it would become a rubber stamp of the administration as there are independent bets who will enter the chamber next Congress.

“Very, very big mistake to think that those independents would automatically be with Duterte on all issues, especially Charter change which needs 18 votes. So let’s not catastrophize on that,” he said.

Senator Grace Poe is among the leaders in the race, placing second with 21,385,665 votes. Senator Nancy Binay, who ran under her party United Nationalist Alliance, is at the 12th place with 14,105,239 votes.

Poe and Binay failed to get the endorsement of President Rodrigo Duterte and Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the regional party of presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

This despite being part of the majority bloc in the Senate and having voted in favor of some key administration-backed issues like martial law in Mindanao and the its tax reform program.

Other senatorial candidates who were not backed by Duterte but have a strong chance of winning are returning senators — Lito Lapid of the Nationalist People’s Coalition and Ramon “Bong” Revilla of Lakas.

The president of Duterte’s party, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, assured that the Senate will remain independent even if it is filled with administration allies.