End premature ‘presidential’ forum, says labor group

MANILA (July 18) — The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has sought an end to all “presidential” forum, calling them “premature and inappropriate.”

“Right now, we still don’t have a single presidential candidate. What we have now are individuals supposedly aspiring or planning to be presidential candidates. So it is not correct to be staging so-called ‘presidential’ forums this early,” said TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera.

“An individual’s self-proclamation that he or she is interested in running for president does not make him or her a legitimate (presidential) candidate,” Herrera pointed out.

“Right now, just about anyone dreaming to run for president can join the so-called ‘presidential’ forums. This is silly,” he said.

“What is happening now is that a number of individuals are merely using the untimely forums as platforms to project themselves as possible presidential candidates, and collect political contributions, or to promote their secondary political plans to run for vice president or senator,” Herrera said.

He suggested that sponsors call their forums anything they like, except “presidential.”

“Presidential” forums or debates should be held only after the Nov. 30 deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) set by the Commission on Elections, according to Herrera.

The former senator said he expects half of the participants in recent so-called “presidential forum” not to file COCs. Of those who would actually file COCs, he said half would eventually withdraw in favor of a vice presidential or a senatorial candidacy.

Two groups mounted so-called “presidential” forum on Thursday.

The Ramos Peace and Development Foundation Inc. held a “presidential” forum at the RCBC Plaza in Makati City. Participants were Senators Francis Escudero, Mar Roxas, Richard Gordon and Loren Legarda; Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro; and Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting also organized a “presidential” forum at Plaza Miranda. Participants were Escudero, Roxas, Gordon, Legarda, former President Joseph Estrada, and Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio.

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