Business World : Analysts eye smooth sailing for Marcos policies

By Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and John Victor D. Ordoñez | Business World

THE INCOMING Senate is expected to support the policies of presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos — including controversial ones — with most of its members either coming from his political party or are presumed to support him, analysts said.

“I would characterize the incoming Senate as composed of members who are collectively less likely to challenge the presumptive president on his more controversial policy decisions,” Herman Joseph S. Kraft, who heads the University of the Philippines (UP) Department of Political Science, said in a Viber message.

Nine of the 12 incoming senators are politically connected to Mr. Marcos, who is headed for a landslide victory after the May 9 presidential election. He will be the first Philippine president to win an election majority after his father’s two-decade rule.

These lawmakers are naturally expected to go along with his agenda, UP Assistant Professor of Political Theory Jan Robert R. Go said.

The passage of legislation against political dynasties is doubtful, while there’s a question whether the Marcos government would continue to use dole-outs for the poor amid a coronavirus pandemic, he added.

“The bigger challenge for the incoming Senate and congress as a whole is to enact laws that will substantively improve the lives of Filipinos amid the continuing pandemic,” Mr. Go said.

Two of the 12 incoming sentors are independent candidates — Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter S. Cayetano and TV journalist Rafael “Raffy” T. Tulfo — and one, reelection Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel is from the opposition.

Mr. Cayetano, who lost in the 2016 vice-presidential race, was President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s running mate. The tough-talking leader’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio who is Mr. Marcos’ running mate, is also headed for a landslide win in the vice-presidential race.

Among the 12 sitting senators, three are members of the Nacionalista Party and related to some of the senatorial frontrunners: Senator Pia S. Cayetano, sister of Mr. Cayetano; Senator Maria Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos, sister of Mr. Marcos; and Senator Cynthia A. Villar, mother of former Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.

Three are members of the ruling PDP-Laban — Senators Ronald M. dela Rosa, Aquilino Martin L. Pimentel III and Senator Francis N. Tolentino. Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares won as an independent candidate in 2019.

Sitting Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara is from the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, while Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay is under the United Nationalist party. Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” T. Go is from the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan and is Mr. Duterte’s former aide and friend, while Senator Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid is from the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. is a member of the Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats, the party of Ms. Carpio.

Mr. Kraft said Mr. Marcos’ legislative agenda remains unclear because he never really spoke much about his plans during his campaign.

“The lack of clear policy directions on the part of the presumptive president means that currently sitting and those who are newly elected have yet to understand what is the likely legislative policies of the incoming administration,” he said.

There would probably be a period of alignment for both the Executive and Senate. “A key aspect of this alignment is who will be leading the Senate.”

No clues have been given as to who the next senate president will be. Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III told reporters on Friday the next Senate leader “must possess a mastery of parliamentary rules and procedures, a consensus builder, independent-minded and stern but compassionate.”

The Senate president should be “always present and never late,” he added.

Reelectionist Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian has expressed interest in vying for Senate president, as did Ms. Villar and reelectionist Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri.

As of Sunday morning, 68% or 117 of 173 election certificates and returns for president and vice-president have been transmitted to the Senate from various provinces in the Philippines and overseas. The chamber has also received certificates containing the votes cast by prisoners and inmates.

The Senate on Saturday took delivery of local certificates and returns from the provinces of Romblon, Pampanga, Samar, Davao Occidental, Zamboanga Sibugay, Camariñes Sur, Northern Samar, Cebu City, Zamboanga del Norte, Negros Oriental, Davao del Sur, Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental, Maguindanao, Misamis Occidental, Bulacan, Basilan, South Cotabato, Iloilo, Caloocan City and Palawan.

Overseas absentee voting certificates from Taiwan, Qatar, Bahrain, Singapore, London, Thailand and Canada have also arrived.

The Senate and House of Representatives are expected to start a joint session on May 24 to canvass the votes for this year’s presidential and vice-presidential elections.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) expects to proclaim winning senators for this year’s elections by Tuesday, spokesman John Rex C. Laudiangco told a news briefing on Sunday.

“We are on track to proclaim the winning senators by Monday or Tuesday,” he said. Comelec has processed about 86% of certificates of canvass for Senate and party-list positions, he added.

As of Sunday noon, Comelec had validated 149 of the 173 certificates of canvass containing 237 election results.

The Comelec full court as the National Board of Canvassers is on its seventh day of validating precinct results that will be part of the official results for the Senate and party-list race.

Results from several overseas precincts and from villages in Lanao del Sur in southern Philippines have yet to be transmitted to the election body.

Mr. Laudiangco said 19 of the 24 remaining certificates of canvass are manual overseas ballots that take longer to deliver.

Last week, Comelec said it would hold special elections in some areas in Lanao del Sur, a province under the Bangsamoro region, after a failure of elections was declared in several municipalities due to reports of violence and irregularities.

Mr. Laudiangco said Comelec plans to hold the elections on May 24.