It will be a breeze for President Rodrigo Duterte in his bid for one of the 12 senate seats in the 2022 elections.
That he will top the Senatorial elections by a mile is a forgone conclusion, considering his immense popularity.
It will be an uphill climb, however, for several candidates who are equally deserving if education and platform were a gauge.
For if these were the yardsticks, Leo Olarte, a lawyer and an accomplished medical doctor from Iligan City, should be able to make it to the winning circle among the 172 bets listed by the Commission of Elections.
His credentials as a professor of law and medicine arguably rates this former president of the Philippine Medical Association as the best educated among the candidates.
Running on the battle cry “put a doctor to the Senate,” Olarte is aiming to be the next Juan Flavier in the hallowed halls of Congress. He vows to lead the Senate in coming up with “stronger and more effective” response to the pandemic and to an economy reeling from the effects of COVID-19.
The author of four text books in legal medicine and medical bioethics is banking on more than 20 years of practicing law and medicine in coming up with the legislations to counter deadly viruses and to ramp up the lot of fisher folks as a vibrant and vital cog of the economy.
“Give it to the experts in providing the answers to the pandemic,” he said, adding that countering the pandemic in the Senate should not be entrusted to personalities who have outlived their usefulness.
He said that considering the economic situation devastated by the pandemic, the electorate should go for new faces who could provide new ideas and new solutions.
Olarte admits it would be an uphill fight and that he considers himself lucky if he would land in the Magic 12.
“Hence I am appealing to those who have made a livelihood of their Senate seats to give chance to new faces,” he said.
As a Mindanaoan, one cannot help but agree with his appeal. One look at the list reveals a field bristling with personalities that spot Olarte in terms of name recall and exposure. For instance, the list includes seven former senators (including Jinggoy Estrada who was senator from 2004 to 2016), former Vice-President Jejomar Binay and six incumbents who wanted more (including detained Senator Leila de Lima).
The list also includes several incumbent and past members of the House of Representatives, four media personalities, five nuisance candidates, at least six former government officials.
Other than Olarte, the list includes several Mindanaoans angling for a senate senate, to include the incumbent Jose Miguel Zubiri.
Joel Apolinario, the self-styled pastor and founder of the Ponzi firm Kapa Community Ministry International, is listed as a senatorial candidate. He is also supposedly a Mindanaoan. But it is doubtful if Mindanaoans will have a good word for him considering the trail of mayhem and even bloodshed that stalked Kapa’s operations.
The other Mindanaoan worth considering is Emmanuel Pinol, the former chair of the Mindanao Development Authority and former Agriculture Secretary. He is also known as a journalist and a farmer. His heart no doubt beats for the welfare of Mindanao and its peoples.
I am not exactly a fan of his but considering his advocacy of agriculture and agri-business, I’d say he would do to ride the river with.