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1Sambayan to 6 nominees: Think, weigh and discern

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Opposition coalition 1Sambayan said it is not expecting “firm decisions” yet from its six potential presidential candidates for next year’s elections as three of its six nominees categorically turned down the group’s nomination.

The group noted that Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Grace Poe, Deputy Speakers Vilma Santos-Recto and Eddie Villanueva, former lawmaker Antonio Trillanes IV, and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno should “think, weigh, and discern” if they would run for the top government post in 2022.

“There are no expectations of firm decisions to run for specific positions at this point in time,” the coalition said in a statement.

“1Sambayan supports our nominees’ desire to think, weigh, and discern if it is truly their personal mission to be in positions of power. It is not an easy decision to make,” the group added.

The coalition pointed out that even the administration’s “anointed ones” have not yet openly declared their plans to run for public office even as some have already “embarked on ad campaigns.”

“After all, true servant leadership is a challenging vocation,” 1Sambayan said.

The group unveiled its six leading nominees on Saturday, but Poe, Santos-Recto, and Diokno said they have no plans to run for higher office next year.

The two lawmakers said they wanted to focus on their legislative duties now as the country responds to the Covid-19 pandemic, while Diokno said he wanted to focus on his Free Legal Helpdesk, an initiative he has been leading to support the poor who need legal assistance.

On the other hand, Villanueva’s son, Senator Joel Villanueva, said their family “was not interested” to mount a presidential bid for now.

Aside from the six nominees, Senator Nancy Binay and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno were also being considered for the list, but both asked 1Sambayan to remove their names.

Lawyer Howard Calleja, one of the convenors of 1Sambayan, said the group remains undeterred in fielding a candidate for president for 2022.

“When you say you are not interested or when you say there are no plans, but of course all of these can change tomorrow or next week. That’s why we are saying we are giving them time. We respect the time of discernment,” he told ANC.

Meanwhile, the Palace wished 1Sambayan “the best” following the developments.

“Only Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV accepted their nomination. I wish 1Sambayan the best, although their cause seems lost as most of their nominees have declined,” presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said in an interview with GMA 7.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said the decision of several nominees to decline the nomination was “not a good start” for the opposition coalition.

“That doesn’t speak well of a convenors’ group making choices for the 2022 national elections,” Lacson said in an interview with ANC.

The lawmaker also accused the group of “exclusiveness in looking for nominees,” noting that retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio “rejected” his inclusion in the 1Sambayan slate for authoring the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act which was opposed by several members of the group.

“I don’t think they are inclusive enough. People think — or at least those that I’ve spoken to — that there’s exclusiveness in looking for nominees because they have set the standards,” Lacson said.

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