More than half of senatorial candidates are from Metro Manila
Twenty-nine of the 33 candidates seeking Senate posts in the May 13 midterm elections are registered voters from Luzon. Of these, 19 are from Metro Manila, the country’s capital region.
Only one senatorial aspirant -- independent candidate Ramon Montaño -- originated from and is considered a resident of the Visayas. He was born in Cebu, the most vote-rich area outside Luzon, and is a registered voter in Negros Oriental.
Cebu has 2.5 million registered voters for the 2013 elections.
Three senatorial hopefuls, meanwhile, are registered voters in provinces from Mindanao: Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, and former Tarlac governor Margarita Cojuangco.
The two major slates in the 2013 elections are dominated by candidates from Luzon. Of the 12 candidates of the Liberal Party-led administration ticket, 11 are from the Philippines’ biggest island. UNA, meanwhile, has seven out of nine senatorial bets coming from Luzon.
Institute for Political and Electoral Reform executive director Ramon Casiple said that traditionally, geography is an important factor considered by parties when choosing the candidates they will field during elections.
“Bahagi ng traditional na kalkulasyon ‘yan. Kung may president ka na taga-Luzon, usually may vice president ka na taga-Visayas or Mindanao. Ang senador, kung saan usually malaki ang boto, mayroon silang representation,” Casiple said in a phone interview.
He specifically cited the case of Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia, who was supposed to be included in the UNA senatorial slate but who decided to run for a congressional seat instead.
"Hinabol nila si Gwen. Ang problema hindi nahabol. May intensyon pero hindi natuloy," he said.
Aside from the votes, Casiple explained that building a slate where vote-rich provinces are represented will ensure an audience during sorties. “Advantage iyon sa campaign. Kapag pumunta ka roon para mangampanya, may mag-aattend ng rally,” he said.
Despite this, the provinces with the most number of votes for the 2013 polls are not well represented in both the LP and UNA senatorial slates. Only UNA senatorial bet and former Senator Ernesto Maceda originated from a vote-rich province, Laguna.
According to GMA News Research, the top 10 vote-rich provinces in the upcoming elections are Cebu, Cavite, Pangasinan, Negros Occidental, Laguna, Bulacan, Davao del Sur, Batangas, Rizal and Nueva Ecija.
On the other hand, the 10 provinces with the least number of registered voters in the 2013 elections are Mountain Province, Ifugao, Biliran, Quirino, Guimaras, Apayao, Dinagat Islands, Siquijor, Camiguin, and Batanes.
Not a consideration
UNA campaign manager and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, for his part, admitted that geography was not considered when they chose their senatorial candidates for the 2013 elections.
“Sa nationwide-driven campaign, talagang it’s about getting your message across,” Tiangco said in a separate phone interview.
In the case of Garcia, Tiangco said that it just so happened that she was qualified and was from Cebu so she was considered for their slate.
"First of all, talaga 'yung qualification ng tatakbo. Number two kung they share the same ideals as we share kung uunahin nila yun," he said.
Grace Magalzo, political science professor in the University of San Carlos in Cebu, for her part explained that geographical representation should not matter much in the race for the Senate given the bicameral structure of the Philippine legislature.
“You have to remember that the senators, since they are elected by the entire country, are expected to really represent the national interest. For more local concerns, we have members of the House of Representatives for that,” Magalzo said.
She added that voters should look at the platforms of governance of candidates and not their places of origin.
According to Section 2 of Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, senators shall be "elected at large" by all qualified voters in the country.
Section 5, meanwhile, states that members of the House of Representatives shall be "elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area" and through "a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations." --- KBK, GMA News