BEING a Bicolano will not be an advantage to the three vice presidential candidates who hail from the region, according to a political analyst.
Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform on Monday said the entry into the race for the Coconut Palace—the official residence of the Vice President —will surely divide the so-called Bicol vote as Bicolanos will root for the candidate who hails from their province.
The three will end up splitting up the votes, Casiple added.
Leni Robredo, who also on Monday formally announced her acceptance to run in tandem with Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd, hails from Camarines Sur.
Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, the presumptive running mate of Sen. Grace Poe, is from Sorsogon while Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes 4th hails from Albay.
A 4th possible Bicolano candidate — Sen. Gregorio “Greg” Honasan — traces his paternal roots to Sorsogon.
The Bicol Region is composed of the provinces Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon and is one those regarded as a vote-rich region in the country.
Commission on Elections data show that the region has three million registered voters in the 2013 elections with 2.4 million turning out to cast their votes.
“Bicol votes will be divided, but I don’t think [votes coming from the region]will be decisive in national elections,” Casiple said.
A retired lawyer from Masbate who was closely following the region’s political cycle said unlike the Ilocanos who boast of the so-called Solid North, the Bicolanos are not united when it comes to politics.
“For maybe a hundred years, Bicolanos wanted to have one of their own to occupy Malacañang, but it never happened,” the now octogenarian observer told The Times on condition he not be named.
“Bicol spawned a lot of politicians of national caliber like Senators [Tecla San Andres] Ziga, Eddie Ilarde and Raul Roco. Even [Camarines Sur. Gov. Luis] Villafuerte was once a promising political star but none of them made it,” the retired lawyer said.
He added that the late Roco was their best bet in recent years but his presidential bid in 1998 was steam-rolled by the extreme popularity of Joseph “Erap” Estrada.
“Roco was expecting the Bicolanos to rally behind him, but the local political leaders abandoned regional ties and went for Erap,” he said. “So if you ask me if there’s a Bicolano vote, forget it.”
Escudero welcomed the entry of Robredo in the vice presidential race, saying she is qualified and has every right to offer herself for higher office.
“I wish her well and I look forward to exchanging views and platforms that will serve the best interests of our country and people with her and the others who have expressed their intention to run for higher office,” he said.
Trillanes, who formally declared his vice presidential bid recently, acknowledges the sacrifice made by Robrero in accepting the LP’s offer to run with Roxas.
“She is not only a highly qualified candidate but also a very gracious lady that has sacrificed a lot for our country,” said Trillanes, who earlier rejected the idea of running with Roxas in 2016.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, appealed to the vice presidential aspirants to elevate the quality of public discourse and enlighten the public on the challenges that face the nation.
“It [Bicol] is becoming the cradle of VPs [Vice Presidents]. National leaders are becoming its major exports. Bicol is punching above its weight,” Recto noted.
“I wish Sonny, Greg, Leni and Chiz good luck as they wage the good fight. They, including Alan [Peter Cayetano]and Bongbong [Ferdinand Marcos Jr.] , are all eminently qualified for the post they are seeking,” he said.