By Severino Samonte
MANILA – Did you know that of the six general elections held so far in the Philippines under the 1987 Constitution, there were two times when 10 candidates aspired for the top elective post?
The first time was in the May 11, 1998 polls where the presidency was contested by then Vice President Joseph Estrada, reigning House Speaker Jose De Venecia Jr. and eight others, namely: Senators Raul Roco, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Juan Ponce Enrile; former Defense Secretary Renato De Villa, Cebu Gov. Lito Osmena, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Chairman Manuel Morato, and lawyer Santiago Dumlao.
The second time was the recently concluded May 9 polls with outgoing Vice President Leny G. Robredo and former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as the leading contenders. The other eight candidates were Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, former Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella, Labor leader Leody De Guzman, businessman Faisal Mangondato, and lawyer-doctor Jose Montemayor.
The overwhelming winner in the May 1998 polls was President Estrada together with former Senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) as vice president. GMA is a daughter of the late former President Diosdado P. Macapagal.
In the May 9, 2022 elections, the presumptive winners so far are Marcos, son of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., and his running mate, outgoing Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, daughter of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
In a general election, all elective government officials are included in the ballot at the same time, except barangay officials whose election is held on a separate date.
The other general elections under the 1987 Charter were held in 1992 which was won by President Fidel V. Ramos; 2004 (with President GMA as the winner); 2010 (with former Senator Benigno S. Aquino III becoming the 15th president); and 2016 (which installed former Davao City Mayor and Congressman Rodrigo R. Duterte as the first president from Mindanao.
The 1998 polls was also the time that the country produced its first set of a male president-female vice president tandem: Estrada and GMA, who both came from Luzon. This was followed by the 2016 elections with the combination of President Duterte-from Mindanao and Vice President Robredo from Luzon.
In his Manila Bulletin column “Peace-Maker” sub-titled “Bind up the nation’s wounds” last May 15, 2022, De Venecia expressed hope that the people “could put aside political differences and work together for the sake of our country and the Filipino people, especially in the midst of challenges besetting the Philippines and the global community.”
“After all, we belong to one country and share a common destiny,” the former House Speaker added. (PNA)