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MANILA, Philippines -- Learning from their failed senatorial bid in 2010, the Makabayan Coalition went all out for its lone senatorial bet Teddy Casiño this time around as it held its very first miting de avance Tuesday, May 7, since it was formed in 2009.
Nominees of Makabayan's 9 party lists accredited by the Commission on Elections -- Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan, Act Teachers, Katribu, Akap Bata, Migrante, Piston -- made a pitch before thousands of their supporters in Plaza Miranda not just to vote for one of their groups but also for Casiño. (Read: Teddy Casiño: A Rappler Profile)
It was a production that rivalled the previous proclamation rallies of major political parties. Senatorial candidates endorsed by Makabayan sent in their video messages. There were dance numbers and confetti. At one point, the 4-hour long affair even featured President Benigno Aquino III -- as impersonated by Willie Nepomuceno.
Before the rally, supporters marched from Taft Avenue and the University of Sto Tomas to the venue.
Casiño is banking on party list votes to make him win this coming elections.
"Anything is possible at this point. with many ground campaigning by our party list groups, our alliances that were forged with with local governments, social media," Casiño said in a mix of English and Filipino. "This is a combination that has never happened in the past and we are hoping that it will have a significant impact in our results."
In April, two of Makabayan's party lists topped a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations. The survey found that Bayan Muna and the Gabriela Women's Party were likely to get 3 seats each. Based on the percentage of votes that the coalition received in the survey, they could receive up to 9 million votes in the coming elections.
Casiño has lagged behind in surveys, placing between the 23rd to 24th place since the start of the election period.
Questioning the validity of senatorial surveys, Casiño remains hopeful Makabayan's backing will clinch for him a Senate seat.
"Kung ang Makabayan makakakuha ng 9 milyon, alangan namang hindi 'yung bumoto sa atin?" Casiño said. (If Makabayan will get 9 million, why would they not vote for me?" Casiño said.
Learning form 2010
In 2010, then Bayan Muna Rep Satur Ocampo and then Gabriel Rep Liza Maza ran for the Senate but lost. When they made the decision to run back then, Ocampo said they only had 6 months to prepare.
This time around, they had two years to prepare.
"We also decided that it's better to go solo - to project Makabayan and make sure that the message of tbe politics of change will be delivered and this was done during the campaign of Teddy Casiño and he was supporte dby 9 party lists that simultaneously campaign for him all over the Philippines," Ocampo said in a mix of English and Filipino.
The mid-term elections also poses a different scenario.
"There's a big difference from our first campaign for the Senate in 2010," Ocampo said. "The condition then was it was a presidential campaign, the focus of campaigns, focus of the media, focus of the people were on the presidential fight."
Even if the surveys prove to be true and their senatorial bet fails to make it yet again, Ocampo said they are positive they will do "much better" than they did in the 2010 elections.
There are certain aspects of the campaign that surveys cannot capture, said Bayan Muna Rep and present 1st nominee Neri Colmenares.
"They cannot capture the baluarte of our party lists, our house-to-house campaigns," he said.
Five of Makabayan's party lists hold seats in the 15th Congress -- Bayan Muna, Gabriela, ACT Teachers, Anakpawis and Kabataan.
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