THE filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) for the 2022 elections began Friday (October 1) with boxing icon and senator Manny Pacquiao first to file for President, along with his running mate, Deputy Speaker and Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza.

Before them, former senator and now representative of the lone district of Antique, Loren Legarda, was the first aspiring candidate to file her COC for a national position.

Legarda arrived at the Sofitel Harbor Garden Tent in Pasay City to submit her COCsto seek reelection in the Senate. 

She is running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). 

This election’s COC filing is unprecedented, being done amid a raging Covid-19 pandemic, and is considered an acid test for the Commission on Elections, which overhauled its usual procedures to put in place strict health protocols.

Speaking briefly after filing his COC, Pacquiao, who the other day announced his decision to retire from boxing, affirmed his desire to further his public service beyond the Senate halls.

He said he chose Atienza – whose selection as vice presidential nominee was a well-kept secret – because, Pacquiao said in Filipino, he saw the former three-term Manila mayor‘s “sincerity, expertise and desire to help the peop[le, not just in Metro Manila.” Pacquiao said he was impressed by how Atienza transformed Manila in his mayorship.

Atienza is known to be one of Pacquiao’s closest confidantes and advisers, having supported him during his days as a struggling boxer, before making history as the world’s only eight-division champion.

The boxing icon is backed by the joint coalition of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) faction which he leads as well as the Probinsya Muna Development Initiative (Promdi), and the People’s Champ Movement (PCM).

Due to the pending leadership dispute of PDP-Laban, Pacquiao said he used Promdi as the official political party, which nominated him, in his CONA. 

In his speech, Pacquiao said if he wins, he will prioritize addressing the pandemic, improving internet service and bringing down electricity rates, and eliminating corruption.

“To those who are abuse and steal from the people, your days are numbered,” Pacquiao said. 

Pacquiao said he decided to pick Atienza as his vice president due to the lawmaker’s long-track record in public service. 

“He has served the public for more than 50 years and I saw his sincerity, expertise, and real desire to help the country,” Pacquiao said. 

Atienza said he decided to back Pacquiao since he was able to rise from poverty and become boxing champion and a lawmaker. 

Despite trailing behind the recent Pulse Asia survey for presidential candidates, Pacquiao said he is still confident he can win in the 2022 polls. 

‘Vast experience’

During her brief speech after her filing, Legarda, a three-term senator before becoming district representative, urged voters to pick candidates who already have “vast experience” in crafting laws. 

She said this will be crucial since there will be an immediate need for the crafting of new laws to help in the pandemic recovery as well as those related to improve the government’s reponse to health, livelihood and education. 

Legarda said this makes her qualified to be reelected as Senator having served in the Senate from 1998 to 2004, 2007 to 2013 and 2013 to 2019.  

“I believe that with my vast experience as a former majority leader, as a senator for three terms, I’ve been able to craft the laws that are helping our people right now, and there is much more that can be done,” Legarda said. 

The period for filing of COC will be from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8, 2021. 

Image courtesy of Bernard Testa/BM

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