EVEN with about 350,000 votes still to be canvassed, Senator-elect Grace Poe has already set a record for the most number of votes received by any national candidate. That shows the vast support this low-key independent candidate got from an electorate visibly looking for younger, fresher faces.
The incomplete number of votes credited to Grace Poe was 20,147,423, which surpassed the previous record of 19,414,795 set by Sen. Bong Revilla in topping the 2010 senatorial election. The acclaim at the polls received by Poe is better appreciated when compared with the votes received by our more popular presidents. Erap Estrada got 10,722,295 votes in the 1998 presidential election, while Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd, who was supported by 42 percent of the electorate, got 15,208,708 votes.
Will this make Grace Poe a potential dark (with apologies to Senator-elect Nancy Binay) horse in the 2016 presidential election? Some believe so; I doubt it. I have already written that being No. 1 in the senatorial election is no guarantee to getting elected president. The history of Philippine elections shows that support of the voters for a senatorial candidate is not automatically carried over when that candidate seeks a higher post. That’s the reason why I was quizzical at the reported race between Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Loren Legarda for No. 1. That’s also the reason why I believe Sen. Chiz Escudero would remain a viable presidential bet in 2016 even if he does not place first or second.
Grace Poe is No. 1 in eight regions. One of the few regions she isn’t No. 1 in is Northern Mindanao (Region X) where former Sen. Migz Zubiri is No. 1. He got this distinction by being No. 1 in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro, the most populous provinces and city in the region. In case readers are curious about how Migz performed in Maguindanao, he was 7th with 50,300 votes. (Sen. Koko Pimentel was 9th there with 45,718 votes.)
Mindanao deserves more representation in the Senate and it’s unfortunate that only Koko made it. This should be an added argument for the regional election of senators. Ours is the only legislature in the world where senators are elected at-large, thus resulting in the over-representation of some regions and the under-representation (or non-representation in the case of Eastern Visayas) of others. Aside from ensuring the representation of all regions, regional election of senators will also minimize campaign expenses.
But I digress. Going back to Migz and Koko, the two are my ideal participants in a contest: proud and unbending in honest debate, in the case of Migz, and humble and gentle in victory, in the case of Koko. Here’s part of Migz’s statement in conceding: “Now, it is time to move on. It is with great pride that I return to private life as a civilian, knowing what I have done, and that I have given everything I can to help our beloved country. I will continue to support and do my part to help heal the divisions of this nation and continue to work and pray for the success of our leaders.” There’s no note of bitterness here, only a full acceptance of the people’s will.
The victorious Koko was not thumping his breast and was not kicking Migz down. He acknowledged that Mindanao should have had two more representatives in the Senate. But his statement that I like most was his hope that he and his “friend” Migz would have a dinner together soon. Definitely, Koko showed class and character in winning.
Oh yes, those who conceded immediately also deserves commendation. I have nothing but praises for Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Cavite Rep. Ayong Malicsi, and a few others whose conceding after a heated campaign had prevented the heightening of tension in their areas.
For so long, candidates had only two classifications after the election—those who won and those who were cheated. Mayor Lim and Congressman Malicsi are among the rare breed of politicians who greeted the Comelec count without any inflammatory statement. May their tribe increase.
Incidentally, the recent proclamation of senators-elect by the Comelec reminds me of what Sen. Joker Arroyo said when he snubbed a similar affair after his reelection in 2007: “It was like a Famas Award night with the Commission on Elections officials as presenters and with the senators-elect as award winners.”
Joker also criticized the Comelec officials led by then Chairman Benjamin Abalos for posing for pictures with the newly proclaimed senators.
“Parang star-struck!” he chuckled.
Joker said that the personal appearance of senators was not needed to be proclaimed winners. He said that in the past, all his proclamation papers were merely sent to him by the Comelec.