Should the twelfth and last slot be given to an actor who also happens to be an ex-convict?

The inclusion of action star Robin Padilla, who had previously been convicted and imprisoned for illegal possession of firearms, has divided the UniTeam Alliance ticket of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and his running mate Sara Duterte-Carpio.

He was included in the Senate slate of vice-presidential bet Duterte-Carpio during a campaign rally in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, last week, when she said that her party had completed its slate.

The conflict stems from Marcos Jr. and Duterte-Carpio belonging to two separate parties, only coming together in the UniTeam Alliance, which is not a registered political party.

Marcos Jr. was drafted by the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, while Duterte-Carpio is with the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democratic party, now controlled by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA).

During their rally in Paoay, Duterte-Carpio announced that Padilla was officially her party’s twelfth senatorial candidate.

After she spoke, however, Marcos Jr. said Padilla “is not part of our line-up” but has been their friend for a long time.

Initial senate surveys showed that Padilla stood a chance of making it to the top 12 candidates to be elected senator. But later surveys showed him standing just outside the dozen probable winners.

Padilla told local media that there were “no formal talks” for his inclusion in the UniTeam senatorial slate.

Marcos Jr. later said that their conflicting line-up was based on “an unusual arrangement.”
The presidential bet said Padilla “is not technically with the slate but he is considered a friend of the team and he can come and join us when he wants.”

Marcos Jr. said he had no objection if Duterte fielded her own senate line-up since she did not belong to the same party as him.

As of this week, the UniTeam line up is composed of incumbent re-electionist senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sherwin Gatchalian; returning senate hopefuls Loren Legarda, Jinggoy Estrada, and Gregorio Honasan;

former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista; former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque; former presidential bet Gilbert Teodoro; former public works secretary Mark Villar; suspended lawyer Larry Gadon; and party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta.

Duterte-Carpio, meanwhile, has endorsed other bets who do not belong to the UniTeam slate such as Sen. Joel Villanueva, Sorsogon Gov. Francis Escudero, former senator JV Ejercito, former presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, former vice-president Jejomar Binay, and former police chief Guillermo Eleazar, and Padilla.

Oddly enough, Escudero has endorsed Vice-president Leni Robredo for president.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban, has its own senate slate, which includes the controversial actor Padilla, who said he would “hire lawyers” to help him draft bills if he is elected senator.

The President’s daughter had earlier said that she would let Marcos Jr. pick the final senate line up of UniTeam because if elected president, he would need the support of the Senate in order to successfully push his legislative agenda.

She said she had committed to Marcos Jr. to campaign for the UniTeam senate bets while she is campaigning throughout the archipelago.

Padilla is allowed to run because he received an absolute presidential pardon. Without that pardon, granted by former president GMA, Padilla would have been banned from running for any elective post.

Her camp has not explained how Duterte-Carpio can campaign for 17 senate bets, when the electorate will only vote for 12 senators in the May elections.

Alliances are not new in local politics. After the 1986 EDSA revolt, the Grand Alliance for Democracy fielded a slate comprised of former Marcos loyalists and politicians who were excluded from the administration of then President Corazon Aquino.