By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Early morning of Feb. 12, Makabayan senatorial bet Teddy Casiño “ran” before the Senate office in Pasay City to kick off the first day of the 90-day election campaign period.
“My run for a senator position is not for me. It belongs to ordinary citizens,”Casiño told reporters as he reached the Senate building.
The independent senatorial bet literally ran from Taft Avenue in Buendia to the Senate building. Casiño was accompanied by families, friends and colleagues among progressive organizations. Running with them, he stressed, means that he is bidding for a senatorial position together with ordinary citizens.
Casiño, who is a regular runner and has joined several races in the past, said he would run every morning in every city he plans to go to. “This is not just a form of campaign. It is also good for our health. Hopefully we would lose our flabs in the duration of the three-month campaign.”
“It would only happen if ordinary citizens have a voice in the Senate,” he added, pointing to the Senate building.
There were also simultaneous runs in various cities and towns in Vigan, Tuguegarao, Isabela, Baguio, Dagupan, Bicol, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Zamboanga City, among others. In Davao City, the run began near Brokenshire Hospital, where Casiño was born, and ended at Rizal Park.
‘Gangnam’ and issues
Reacting to the question if he would dance “Gangnam Style,” a song popularized by Korean singer Psy, Casiño said he would only do it if the people would request him to and if it is “appropriate.” He added that dancing during election sorties is not the “center” of his campaign style, which he described as “high-level campaigning.”
So far, former senator, now re-electionist Ernesto Maceda and former president Joseph Estrada, who is running as Manila mayor, are reportedly planning to use Gangnam Style, which have gathered more than a billion views on Youtube, as their campaign song. Casiño, for his part, has his own campaign song titled, “Pagbabago para sa Karaniwang Tao,” composed by progressive singer Karl Ramirez.
Casiño said he would spend more time explaining issues to the people.
After the run, he said he would push for a genuine agrarian reform program and national industrialization. “Secondly, I will push for permanent jobs and higher wage for workers. Thirdly, I will also push to keep prices low.”
“If the government will attend to this, it could provide relief and initial improvements to the lives of ordinary citizens,” Casiño said.
On big, traditional parties
When asked how he plans to compete with other senatorial bets from big and traditional parties, Casiño said he could not – if campaign funding is the measure. But, he said, he is not short on support from the people.
“For me, there is no bigger machinery than the Filipino people. I have spent a long time – 15 years as an activist and nine years as a member of Congress – being with the people in fighting for their issues and seeking redress from the government,” Casiño said.
“We have to treat this like a triathlon because we have to persevere toward the country’s genuine path to development,” he said.
When asked how he plans to compete with the big proclamation rallies that the major parties are conducting, Casiño said, “We do not believe that we will win just by bringing in paid audiences. Later this afternoon, we are going to Commonwealth market. We do not want the people to go to us. We will visit them in markets, parks and in their communities.”
In order to raise funds, Casiño and his group is selling “Teddy Cares” bears for P200 each to fund his television and radio advertisements. The Liberal Party reportedly spent P50 million for the television ads that were aired featuring its senatorial line-up even before the official 90-day campaign period began.
“We have it from reliable sources that from January 9 to 21, the LP has allotted P25 million for their TV and radio ads and another P25 million for the succeeding weeks before the February 12 official start of the campaign period. That is the reason behind the bombardment of political ads of the Liberal Party these past weeks,”Casiño said.
He added that the LP is “blatantly circumventing the limits on paid political ads.”
When asked about his chances of winning, Casiño replied, “There will be victory if we will persevere for it, ready to sacrifice and go around the country to win the fight for ordinary citizens.”
Casiño said that, aside from his relatives and friends, non-government organizations and people’s organizations play a big part in his campaign.
In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, his parents Amador and Lizabelle and in-laws Josefina and Honorio said they are hopeful that Casiño would make it.
“We are hopeful. We know that it’s an uphill fight since we don’t have much resources–money–we don’t even have a popular political party but we knowhe will be supported by the masses,” Amador Casiño said in the report, adding that the Senate needs “fresh faces.”
Josefina, for her part, said they would join their son-in-law wherever he decides to go. “We are going to join him even if it is raining. It was also raining when he filed his candidacy.”
He said he would also maximize the social media.
He added that landing low in the recent Pulse Asia survey is “natural.”
“Today is the first day of the campaign. It is natural that the old and big names in politics would top the survey. I have been hearing these names since I was in elementary,” Casiño said, “But if people want to have change, it is time to have a different representation.”