Senatorial bets who filed their COCs in Manila yesterday. From left: Sonny Angara, Francis Tolentino and Harry Roque
Krizjohn Rosales
152 seeking Senate seats as filing ends
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - October 18, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 152 individuals hope to slug it out for the 12 Senate seats up for grabs in the May 2019 midterm polls.

The Commission on Elections said the number of Senate aspirants who filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) would still be trimmed down as the Comelec still has to purge nuisance candidates from the roster.

Compared to the 2016 general elections, there were fewer candidates for the 2019 polls and the festivities accompanying the filing of the COCs was more subdued.

The only incumbent that filed his COC yesterday was Sen. Sonny Angara of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino party.

A mix of interesting characters, neophytes and veteran politicians beat yesterday’s deadline for the filing of COCs.

Former presidential spokesman Harry Roque decided to join the senatorial race under the People’s Reform Party of the late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Roque had previously announced that he would run as representative of the party-list Luntiang Pilipinas.

“My heart really is with the Senate. I’ve already won in the party-list, been there, done that…what is important now is to pursue the kind of leadership of Miriam Defensor-Santiago,” Roque said.

Former presidential adviser on political affairs and erstwhile chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Francis Tolentino also decided to give it another shot after his failed Senate bid in 2016.

Tolentino landed in 13th spot then, just shy of detained Sen. Leila de Lima in the winning circle.

 (Left) Raffy Alunan and (Right) Juan Ponce Enrile. Krizjohn Rosales

Tolentino, who has a pending electoral protest against De Lima before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, said he filed a motion to suspend his petition.

He admitted that it took him a long process to decide whether to run for senator again because it might affect the electoral protest against De Lima.

“So what I am asking is to shelve the case temporarily. I do not affirm the proclamation of De Lima because we have not finished the recount. We have not gone over all the ballots that need to be recounted,” he said.

Sources, however, revealed the case might be dismissed, saying Tolentino’s move to file a COC is virtually abandoning the case.

Among the notables who filed their COCs yesterday were former interior secretary Rafael Alunan III running under Bagumbayan party.

Bacoor, Cavite Mayor Lani Mercado appeared before the Comelec to file the COC in behalf of her detained husband, former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla.

Mercado said they are hoping that Revilla will be allowed to obtain temporary freedom by the court in December to campaign.

Revilla is the last of the three lawmakers charged and detained over the pork barrel scam.

Two of them, former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, were allowed to post bail.

Estrada earlier filed his COC, seeking a comeback to the Senate, while Enrile came later.

Enrile appeared before the Comelec yesterday to personally refile his COC which was earlier erroneously filled up.

Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay also filed his COC, running under the Aksyon Demokratiko party.

Former broadcast journalist Jiggy Manicad and veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal joined the fray in filing their COC yesterday.

Macalintal vowed to champion the rights and welfare of senior citizens. He is running as an independent.

Two labor leaders also came to file their COCs.

Federation of Free Workers president Jose Matula and Ledicario de Guzman, chairman of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, said they would fight for labor rights in the Senate.

Malacañang said it is hopeful that the candidates will help the Duterte administration push for laws that will promote the welfare of Filipinos, law and order and disaster preparedness.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the outcome of the 2019 polls is relevant because the winners could reinforce President Duterte’s efforts to achieve genuine and meaningful change.

“Given the high level of appreciation exhibited by the people in favor of this administration, we look forward to newly elected officials in Congress coordinating with us towards the advancement of vital pieces of legislation that ensure the promotion of the people’s welfare,” Panelo said.  – With  Mayen Jaymalin, Alexis Romero, Edu Punay, Paolo Romero

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