Two time Philippine elections party list topnotcher BUHAY with a Velarde sitting in Congress from 2001 to 2019 is in deep trouble. Having three representatives in the years (2007, 2013) that Buhay came out on top, the rest of the elections participated in netted two representatives (2001, 2004, 2010, 2016). However, in 2019, former Manila City Mayor Lito Atienza was the lone BUHAY winner. Atienza is currently serving his third term (2013, 2016 and 2019) as a BUHAY party list congressman and he is running for vice president in 2022. 2019 was the first time since 2001 that no Velarde won as a party list representative since the Velarde nominee was only listed second, with Atienza listed first, and BUHAY only secured one seat.
Atienza asked for the help of the Charismatic leader Brother Mike in the 2001 party list elections with the agreement that Brother Mike would choose the nominees. Atienza was the BUHAY second nominee in 2013 and 2016 and won both times. For 2019, Atienza requested Brother Mike for him (Mayor Lito) to run as the BUHAY first nominee (perhaps to ensure that he would win a third consecutive term). Brother Mike agreed and Congressman Atienza got his third term through BUHAY. Brother Mike thought that the initial 2001 agreement was still in place and that he would put a son of his as the first nominee for 2022. Party List representative Lito Atienza had other plans. Since he is barred by the Philippine Constitution from running for a fourth consecutive Congressional seat as well as having plans for higher office in 2022, Atienza put his son-in-law as BUHAY’s first nominee for 2022. The Velarde family (Brother Mike and two of his sons who had previously been BUHAY Congressmen) pulled out of the party list that had a spectacular past because of Brother Mike and the hordes of El Shaddai faithful.
Without Brother Mike and with Lito Atienza running for vice president in 2022, it would be worth watching if BUHAY party list would be able to regain the glory it once had from the 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 elections. A single winner in 2019 is the lowest point of BUHAY at this time. For 2022, BUHAY can retain its single seat (getting two or three seats as in elections past is totally unthinkable) or BUHAY may not succeed in getting a single seat as the Brother Mike Velarde drawing power is no longer there.