Before the Panel of Experts benchmarked the candidates, Cayetano, Legarda, and Trillanes were in the magic 12 in a straw vote that was conducted among the participants of “Timbangan 2013” that was sponsored by the Movement of Good Governance (MGG) on April 16, 2013. After the panelists evaluated the candidates, the three re-electionist senators were no longer part of the choices by the voters. The top 12 candidates who made it were:
- Jun Magsaysay, Jr.
- Koko Pimentel
- Risa Hontiveros
- JC de los Reyes
- Richard Gordon
- Ed Hagedorn
- Grace Poe Llamanzares
- Teddy Casino
- Sonny Angara
- Bam Aquino
- Jamby Madrigal
- Chiz Escudero
(For a full breakdown of the results, please click here.)
Former Senator Magsaysay became the number one choice and Former Senator Jamby Madrigal, and JC delos Reyes formed part of the favorites. Bam Aquino and Sonny Angara dropped in the ranking of voters.
The Panel of Experts was led by UP Prof. Emeritus Winnie Monsod who also chairs MGG. She was joined by Former Secretary of Finance Roberto F. De Ocampo, Former COMELEC Commissioner Gus Lagman, Former Governor of Negros Occidental Lito Coscolluela, and Ms. Joy Aceron, Research Director of the Ateneo School of Government. The Panel evaluated the candidates based on MGG’s scorecard that looked at the “effectiveness, empowerment, and ethical character” of each of the candidates. They were guided by a briefer on the candidate’s past performance, their empowering programs and behavior, as well as how their lives are consistent with the values that the candidates professed.
The Experts were unanimous that the voters’ should take a stand on the ill-effects of dynasties on Philippine politics. “Dynasties have monopolized political power and resources,” Prof.Monsod said, “and have deprived other equally competent Filipinos to develop leadership and serve their countries well. Year after year, the PDAF of political dynasties have been spent to perpetuate their power and influence.”
Mr. De Ocampo lamented that candidates are being marketed as products and not on their demonstrated competence. Mr. Coscolluela found it difficult to choose candidates using former Senators Diokno and Sen. Claro Recto as examples. Ms. Aceron said that candidates who do not respect institutions are not empowering and ethical.
Using the 3 criteria, the Panel had only one choice among the Senator Re-electionists: Sen Koko Pimentel. Senator Legarda failed in ethics with her record as a political butterfly, i.e. choosing her partymate and political affiliation based on personal gains and not on principles. Senators Honasan and Trillanes were not chosen because of their participation in coup attempts which cost government and the private sector huge resources. The issue of political dynasty was so overwhelming in the case of Senator Cayetano.
Among the Former Senators seeking election, Senator Ramon Magsaysay was a unanimous choice for his “impeccable character, his dedication and industry, especially his work on the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act.” Mr. De Ocampo said that he should have run for President. Prof. Monsod lamented that although former Senator Gordon has an excellent track record, the political dynasty issue hounds him. One panellist remarked that Former Senator Maceda “has been in politics for so long that he is a dynasty by himself.” The panel had positive comments about former Senator Madrigal noting that she was courageous and was not afraid to stand for her principles. Although a panellist added, “except when it comes to the governance of President Estrada. “The advocacy of Former Senator Zubiri on Mindanao does not show in terms of his programs,” the panel commented.
The discussion was animated when the Congressmen seeking a seat in the Senate were benchmarked. The panel asked, “Do we want another C5?” Prof, Monsod observed that Cong. Ejercito still has to explain the sources of his assets when he served as Mayor for a long period. Despite the work of Cong. Angara in the Lower House, the panel said that he faces a huge dynasty issue plus the creation of an economic zone in his district without people’s consultation. The panel had diverse opinion on Congressmen Hontiveros and Casino with one saying they concentrated on taking a stand on several issues with another saying the importance of having different viewpoints on policies. The sponsorship of Cong. Hontiveros of policies protecting women was highlighted.
The panel had nothing to say about Ms. Nancy Binay whose major qualification is “being the daughter of the Vice president.” In complete contrast was Mayor Hagedorn who transformed Puerto Princesa into a model city in environment protection and took a strong stand against mining. The issue of political dynasty was raised once more in the case of Mr. Bam Aquino. The panel asked, “Do you think Mr. Aquino would have been considered as a candidate for the Senate if P’noy was not President?” Prof. Monsod spoke well of the leadership of Ms. Llamanzares in fighting electoral fraud. She said that Ms. Cojuangco has good academic qualifications but she is a famous member of a political dynasty. The choices of the panel among the neophytes were Mr. Hagedorn and Mr. JC delos Reyes. Although the dynasty issue was raised with respect to Mr. de los Reyes, Prof. Monsod explained that” he even ran against his uncle.”
The members of the audience said that they changed their choices as a result of the scorecard and their participation in the benchmarking exercise.
Dr. Milwida Guevara is a former finance undersecretary and a Gawad Haydee Yorac awardee for her work in education reform. She is a prime mover of MGG.