MANILA – The Philippines may have scored another world record in connection with the May 9, 2022 national and local elections.

And this one is for Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Almost 100 persons filed their certificates of candidacy for president, and almost 30 filed their CoCs for vice president as of October 8, the last day of the filing of such before the Commission on Elections.

Not only that. A total of 176 individuals filed their CoCs for only 12 available seats for senators.

Comelec records also showed candidates for local posts reached 733 for the House of Representatives, 281 for governor, 226 for vice governor, 1,951 for Sangguniang Panlalawigan, 4,486 for mayor, 3,968 for vice mayor, and 35,636 for Sangguniang Panlungsod/Bayan.

The many candidates wanting the two highest posts of the national government could be an indication, according to observers, of the enthusiasm of voters for a change in the government leadership.

Other observers said many CoC filers may just be staging a mockery of the election process or are just out to have fun. Still others claim they have become part of history in having their names listed for the elections.

The Comelec claimed they merely accepted the CoCs and they will next cleanse the list by eliminating those unqualified to mount a serious campaign and the so-called “nuisance candidates.”

Of the 97 candidates for president in the list, five are considered serious contenders – world boxing icon and Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao who was the first to file his CoC on October 1, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. ,Vice President Maria Leonor Leni Robredo and the last-minute filer, Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.

The five are top contenders because they have political parties supporting them or and allies whose machineries could mount a serious political campaign.

Pacquiao is president of the PDP-Laban Pimentel-Pacquiao wing and listed PROMDI, a Cebu-based national political party founded by former Cebu Governor Lito Osmena, as his major party. He claims that PROMDI has an alliance with PDP-Laban and PCM. His vice presidential candidate, Deputy Speaker Jose Lito Atienza Jr., a former three-term mayor of Manila and Cabinet member, belongs to Buhay Party-list and was a long-time leader of Liberal Party (LP).

Senator Lacson is now the president of Aksyon Demokratiko, a party founded by the late Sen. Raul Roco. His runningmate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, an actor, singer, composer and host who started in politics in Quezon City, is the chairman of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Mayor Domagoso heads the Asenso Manila, a local party credited for his and his team’s unprecedented landslide victory in the last elections against former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and former Senator and mayor Alfredo Lim. Domagoso is now running under Reporma party of former Defense Secretary and presidential candidate Renato S. de Villa of which he is the new chairman. Domagoso’s runningmate, Willie Ong, a doctor who has millions of followers in social media and has promised to help map out a plan to stop the pandemic, has joined Reporma.

Marcos filed his CoC under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas which is an advocacy group of the country’s shift to the federal system of government. It was not known if he has resigned from the Nacionalista Party (NP) headed by former Senate President and Speaker Manuel Villar Jr. which was his vehicle in the past elections. The Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), once a behemoth party during the time of his father, President Marcos, is reportedly supporting his candidacy. Marcos has no runningmate yet but supporters he would eventually team up with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

While Robredo, a lawyer and former congresswoma, is the chairman of the opposition Liberal Party, she filed her CoC for president as an independent candidate. Her candidate for vice president, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, though remains the president of LP.

Senator dela Rosa, a former chief of the Philippine National Police who is being blamed as responsible for the controversial drugs war ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte, was a surprise candidate coming in minutes before the closing of the filing of CoCs. He is the candidate of the PDP-Laban Cusi wing whose chairman is President Duterte, explaining that he was accompanied by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi during the filing of CoC.

Many believe that the neophyte politician dela Rosa would eventually be substituted by presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, his father’s choice lately to be his successor in tandem with long-time aide, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the ruling party’s candidate for VP.

The belief was bolstered by Senator dela Rosa’s answer when asked about this possible substitute: “Di maganda kung si Sara Duterte magsubstitute sa akin (It’s good if Sara Duterte will substitute me.”

At press time, Mayor Sara has filed his CoC for a third term as mayor of Davao City, and insisted that she would not run for president.

“I am presenting myself to the Dabawenyos as mayor for the third and last time in my life as a politician,” said Sara as filed a COC for city mayor.

In her Facebook post on October 8, the last day of the COC-filing period, Sara  asked for understanding of her supporters as she rejected again calls for her to run for president.

The president’s daugther is still claiming disinterest in joining the 2022 race to Malacanang but supporters continue to hope she’ll have a last-minute change of mind. “Aint over till it’s over,” said Sara backers in unison.

But a day later, President Duterte, in another flipflop, President Duterte disclosed Senator dela Rosa was the choice of the ruling party and expressed confidence about Dela Rosa’s chances of winning the crowded race to Malacañang.

“He might still make it. With so many candidates filing their certificates of candidacy, you can never tell the destiny of man. It would be good to have a military man as president of this Republic,” Duterte said during a visit to controversial Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.

Earlier, Dela Rosa said he has received Duterte’s blessings, adding that he will continue the programs of Duterte if he is elected president next year.

This as the President conceded that his daughter would no longer join the race to succeed him in Malacanang next year.

“Inday is definitely out as she has said earlier [in] the oft-repeated statements in so many I think interviews. She has always maintained that she is not running. She was just true to her words,” the President said in an interview with SMNI News of Pastor Quiboloy.

“Inday is young and there will always be some opportunities in the future for her<” Duterte said in the interview. “Not necessarily the presidency, but one of those options in life, especially if you think of the imponderables of life.”

Due to constant flipflopping of President Duterte from encouraging to discouraging her daughter’s possible presidential run, Sara’s supporters still won’t abandon their hopes she would later change her mind.

Mayor Sara Duterte and other candidates have until November 15 to do substitution in accordance with the election.

If Senators dela Rosa and Go push through with their candidacy and would not make it, they could still return to the Senate to continue their term unlike Senators Pacquiao, Lacson and Sotto whose terms end on June 30, 2022.

Other candidates for president with record or parties of consequence are Emilio Abello,  spokesman of President Duterte until he was transferred as undersecretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs; and former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales (PDSP). Other candidates who listed with political parties are farmer-leader Leodario de Guzman (PLM), Anna Capela Velasco (Lakas-CMD), Grepor Belgica (PDDS), Orlando de Guzman (Partido Pederal ng Maharlika) and Arsenio Antiporda Jr. (Partido Maharlika). The rest are independent candidates.

Aside from Atienza, Sotto, Bong Go, Sen. Pangilinan and Dr. Willie Ong, candidates for vice president with listed political parties are Alexander Lalgue (Phil Green Republican Party), Carlos Serapio (Katipunan), Princess Sunshine Amirah Magdangal (PGRP), Elpidio Rosales Jr. (Maharlika Peoples Party), Emmanuel Lopez (Workers and Peasant Party), Raquel Castillo (PLM). Lyle Fernando Uy (Lakas-CMD), Benedicto Jose (PDDS), Nerissa Navarro and Joel Sison, both of KBL. The rest are independent.

The candidates for senators consist mostly of reelectionists and comebacking senators, Cabinet members and celebrities.

Former Vice President and Senator and well known broadcaster Manuel “Noli” de Castro and former Vice President Jesus Jose Maria Jejomar Binay are staging a comeback in politics after filing their CoC for senator. If Binay, who failed in his congressional bid in 2019, wins, he will joining her daughter, Senator Nancy Binay, replicating the feat in the 13th Congress of mother-son senators, Dr. Luisa Pimentel-Ejercito and son Jose Jinggoy Estrada. Dr. Ejercito, First Lady of President Joseph Estrada (real name, Joseph Marcelo Ejercito), also served as senator in the 12th Congress.

Reelectionist Senators are Richard Gordon, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, and Leila de Lima while those returning to the Senate are Sorsogon Governor Francis Escudero, Rep. Loren Legarda, DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan, brothers Joseph Victor Ejercito and Jose Jinggoy Estrada, Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Other prominent candidates for senator are former Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, former congressman Monsour del Rosario,  former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, former Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol, broadcaster Raffy Tulfo, actor Robinhood Robin Padilla, broadcaster Rey Langit, Presidential Anti-Crime Commissioner Greco Belgica, former Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, former presidential legal counsel and spokesman Salvador Panelo, former congressman Teodoro Baguilat Jr., Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, former Congressman Neri Colmenares, educator-businessman Carl Balita, Lutgardo Barbo and former Pagsanjan Mayor Abner Afuang. (PhilamPress/alfredgabot@aol.com)