In what presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos called the "first step" to removing chaos from politics, parties affiliated with three Philippine presidents who came after his father united to support his bid to recapture Malacanang.
The UniTeam Coalition launched Thursday brought together Marcos' Partido Federal with Lakas-CMD of former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Fidel Ramos and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino of former President Joseph Estrada.
Also part of the alliance is the Hugpong ng Pagbabago of President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is running as Marcos' vice president. Also on Thursday, Duterte's chief aide who is running for president under his PDDS party, Sen. Bong Go, hinted at withdrawing his candidacy as a "supreme sacrifice".
"Ito'y simula pa lang. Sa aking palagay, first step pa lang ito para maipagsama-sama natin yung tinatawag ko na like-minded political forces," Marcos told reporters. "That is the beignning of the process, maipatuloy natin ang kooperasyon. 'Yan yung nakikita natin na medyo magulo sa eleksyon, sa kampanya, sa pulitika mag-stabilize na yan."
Three of the families in the UniTeam Alliance have faced corruption and plunder charges. The Marcos family, according to the Presidential Commission on Good Government, pillaged $10 billion from state coffers during their 30-year rule on top of being blamed for the death and disappearance of thousands.
Arroyo was put on hospital arrest and tried for plunder and electoral sabotage but was eventually acquitted. Estrada was convicted of plunder but was pardoned by Arroyo. Ramos was never charged in court for the alleged irregularities under his watch.
Senatorial aspirant Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, his father's co-accused for plunder, who was also involved in a subsequent scandal involving the misuse of pork barrel or discretionary funds, represented the patriarch during the launch.
"Kaming tatlo po ay pawang mga anak ng presidente. Hindi na po talaga maiaalis sa aming kamalayaan, sa aming dugo at sa aming puso ang makapaglingkod sa ating mahal na bayan," he said.
What's next for the elections?
The consolidation of political dynasties behind the Marcos-Duterte tandem leaves Vice President Leni Robredo and her running mate, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, as the torchbearers of the Aquino family, though they have dropped yellow in favor of pink and green as their campaign color.
It was the late President Cory Aquino who led the bloodless revolt that ousted the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 while her son, the late President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, won the 2010 elections with the promise of ending corruption that allegedly started under Arroyo.
The family's most prominent scion, TV host and actress Kris Aquino, is expected to campaign for Robredo.
Outside of the political families, there's the tandem of Senators Panfilo Lacson and Tito Sotto, who on Thursday said they would lead as a "council of two" if elected. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno is also in the running, seeking to capitalize off the social media celebrity of his single term, so is Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
The UniTeam alliance is unprecedented in Philippine politics as ruling families unite to keep power to themselves like a "cartel" instead of fighting against each other, University of the Philippines political science professor Aries Arugay told ANC’s Headstart last Nov. 17. At that time, the Marcos-Duterte ticket was just announced.
“If this alliance becomes iron clad, then we could be talking of beyond 2022, 2028, 2034. That’s how cartels work. They limit the competition. They make sure winners of future electoral contests will be among them and this is quite another level of Philippine dynastic politics,” he said.