Opposition forces moved to unite their ranks for the 2022 elections, unveiling on Thursday a coalition headlined by three of the most prominent figures in the Philippines' opposition to China's maritime claims.
The group, 1Sambayan, is led by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
It includes the Makabayan bloc of progressive lawmakers in the House, the Liberal Party, the Magdalo Party, teachers, drug war victims, climate activists, religious groups, and youth groups.
Carpio, who chairs 1Sambayan, said opposition unity is a matter of national survival.
"Do the Filipino people deserve more of the same government they have endured in the last five years or do the Filipino people deserve a government that will provide them, their children and their grandchildren, with a brighter future?," he said.
Unless the opposition is united, "we cannot win in 2022," said Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares, who lost in the 2019 senatorial elections. The coalition said it would field a full slate in 2022, with candidates for president, vice president and twelve senators.
"1Sambayan is expected to contribute to a unified opposition but it's not yet the unified one. It's still a process that is ongoing," Ramon Casiple, Executive Director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, told reportr.
"The most important thing that unites us here is our recognition that what is at stake is not only the survival of activists, is not only the survival of the opposition, is not only the survival of various sectors -- the women, the church-- but it's really the survival of the Filipino people. If only for that, this unity and this coalition is worth fighting and working for," Colmenares said.
He was asked how the coalition would reconcile varying interests of its member groups. Colmenares said anyone who joins must respect the decision of convenors in coming up with only one solid slate.
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So far, 1Sambayan is considering Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, former Senator Antonio Trillanes, and Senator Nancy Binay, said former Education Secretary Armin Luistro. He did not say for which position.
The group said nominations are now open, as certificates of candidacy for national posts must be filed by October.
"Ang kaibahan dito, we are going to consult the people.. Dito ang kumbension ay ang taumbayan. Ordinaryong magtatakatak, ordinaryong nagtitinda ng sampagita ay pwedeng sumama dito," Luistro said.