Retired justice to lead opposition coalition in elections next year

PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

A RETIRED magistrate will lead a coalition of opposition candidates seeking to challenge President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s anointed candidates in the elections next year.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio will head the 1Sambayan, which consists of sectoral groups that will form a slate of national candidates, the party said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday.

“Carpio’s sterling record in public service, invaluable contributions to nation building and brave opposition to the abuses of the current administration make him a worthy advisor on efforts for government reform,” 1Sambayan said.

Mr. Carpio said he formed the coalition to secure victory for the opposition. He said both independent Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares and administration candidate Mar A. Roxas II lost to President Rodrigo R. Duterte in the 2016 presidential elections after the votes got divided.

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“The lesson there is if you are not united, if you fill two or more candidates, the other side has a better chance of winning,” he said in a Zoom App Meetings interview. “Especially if the other side is the administration, that would be a tremendous advantage for them.”

Mr. Carpio said 1Sambayan would become a party of “democratic forces” and would oppose those “identified with authoritarianism, dictatorship, extrajudicial killings, plunder and violation of human rights.”

“Anyone identified with those characteristics will not be part of our side,” he added.

Mr. Carpio said the coalition is considering Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, Manila Mayor Francisco M. Domagoso, Senators Maria Lourdes S. Binay-Angeles and Ms. Poe-Llamanzares as its candidates.

He added that the party could win national seats, noting that Mr. Duterte had won only by a plurality of votes.

The President continues to enjoy popular support, according to polls by the Social Weather Stations.

Mr. Carpio said the government’s alleged failure to handle the coronavirus pandemic would be a main stumbling block for the administration party.

“People look at the government as having failed,” he said. He also cited Mr. Duterte’s failure to assert the country’s rights in the South China Sea.

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