I actually predicted Team Unity (TU) to get majority of the senatorial seats in the May 14 elections because of the so-called command votes. The Genuine Opposition (GO) did not have majority of the incumbent governors, mayors, even barangay captains on its side. In a feudal setup, that is already a big factor. But I ended up wrong because GO bets won most of the 12 available Senate seats.
The main reason for this was that TU was not able to hold on to its advantage. Local officials were selective in their support of administration senatorial candidates, puncturing holes into the command vote balloon. In Cebu, for example, Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia dropped some TU candidates and replaced them with those from GO. GO candidates like Loren Legarda, Panfilo Lacson, Manny Villar and even independent candidate Francis Pangilinan managed to wiggle into the winning circle.
The failure of the command votes to fly especially in the Visayas and Mindanao means that TU candidates failed to offset the advantage of their GO counterparts in Luzon, especially in Metro Manila, a known opposition bailiwick. GO bets were also wily enough to prevent cheating in favor of TU candidates in some Mindanao areas like Maguindanao. That further jeopardized administration plans, legal or illegal, to cover up GO advantage in Luzon.
For me, there are pluses and minuses in the outcome of the senatorial elections. An opposition-controlled Senate and an overwhelmingly pro-administration House of Representatives would mean more of the same. Meaning, lawmaking will again take the backseat as both the opposition and administration will be using whatever advantage they have in hitting or defending President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Because the House will parry any attempt to push through impeachment moves against President Arroyo, expect the opposition to be content with conducting more “investigations in aid of legislation” like it did before. This is more so because noisy members of the opposition like Alan Peter Cayetano are headed for a win. Congress committees will be used as launching pad for attacks against the Arroyo administration.
The plus factor is that some of the least qualified candidates lost in the senatorial race. Actors like Cesar Montano and Richard Gomez lost, although I don’t buy the argument that voters have become more mature. It’s just that there were problems in the manner these candidates conducted their campaign. Popularity aided by a well-oiled machinery was the key factor in winning. Popularity alone without good machinery didn’t work and vice-versa.
–Candido O. Wenceslao, June 1, 2007