Palace still expects independent Senate
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo allayed concerns that the administration’s victory in the midterm polls would affect the checks and balances in government, saying no Senate “has ever been under any president.”
Joven Cagande

Palace still expects independent Senate

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang expects incoming senators, including President Duterte’s allies, to be independent and to rise above partisanship when tackling issues involving national interest.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo allayed concerns that the administration’s victory in the midterm polls would affect the checks and balances in government, saying no Senate “has ever been under any president.”

“The history of the Senate shows members of that chamber independent ever since. No Senate has ever been under any president. They always rise above parties and considerations when issues involve national interest, national security and the interest of the Filipino people,” Panelo said yesterday. 

“We expect them to be fealty to the duties imposed to them by the Constitution and the laws. They have to support the President when his agenda is for the good of the people and oppose it if they feel in their conscience that it runs counter to the interest of the nation,” he added. 

Panelo said Duterte would not mind his allies criticizing his policies if they have reasons for doing so. 

“If you noticed during the campaign, he keeps on referring to Sen. (Sonny) Angara, saying ‘I like this man who keeps criticizing me and yet he has reasons, valid reasons for that,’” Panelo said. 

‘Duterte magic’

Senators allied with the administration are dominating the senatorial race based on the latest election results released by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Some analysts are worried that the results of the poll would erode the independence of the Senate, a body that has traditionally been critical of the actions of the executive branch. 

As of yesterday, eight candidates endorsed by Duterte are in the top 12. They are Sen. Cynthia Villar, former presidential aide Christopher Go, Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, former police chief Ronald dela Rosa, Sen. Sonny Angara, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III.

“While the results of the elections are unofficial, there appears to be an unstoppable trend towards a resounding victory of the administration’s favored candidates. Undoubtedly, the Duterte magic spelled the difference,” Panelo said. 

He said the overwhelming majority of the electorate responded to the call of the President to support those whom he said would help pass laws supportive of his goal to uplift the masses.

Panelo said voters rejected what he called the “negative propaganda” unleashed by members of the opposition, including their statements on extrajudicial killings, the war on drugs and the South China Sea dispute. 

“The victory of the administration’s candidates and the shutout of the Otso Diretso candidates send a strong message that our people yearn for stability and continuity of the genuine reforms that this administration started. They yearn for a constructive and not obstructionist Senate which will help in crafting the President’s legislative agenda,” he said. 

Panelo said the recently concluded election showed Filipinos have a great order for democracy that can rise above the loud political noise.

Palace vows to respect dissent

Malacañang thanked Otso Diretso and their supporters for “fighting a good battle” and expressed hope that their expression of dissent would be fair. 

“To the Otso Diretso candidates and their supporters, we thank you for giving your best shot and fighting a good battle. As we have said repeatedly, we respect dissent as it vitalizes the democracy of our nation. In the end however, it is the will of the people that prevails and we must respect the same,” Panelo said.  

“While we expect dissent to continue, we hope that the same be demonstrated with fairness and within the bounds of the law, as well as with deference to the leaders duly chosen by us, electorate,” he added.

Panelo expressed hope the opposition would work with the administration in pushing for laws that would benefit the public.

“We have only one government, one nation, one flag. Together, let us support it for the betterment of the Philippines that we all love,” he said. 

Among the administration’s priority bills pending in Congress are measures amending the Constitution to pave the way for federalism, reimposing the death penalty and tax reform packages.

Panelo said the dominance of the administration allies in the Senate would prevent a budget impasse similar to what happened last year.

The delay in the passage of the 2019 budget has been blamed for the slower economic growth in the first quarter.

HNP bets dominate polls

Senatorial bets of the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP) regional party of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte dominated the race in the midterm elections, based on the quick count being conducted by poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

Results of the elections based on returns electronically transmitted to the PPCRV from the transparency server of the Comelec showed 10 candidates in the winning circle of 12 are from the HNP as of 3:50 p.m. yesterday.

Reelectionist Senator Villar topped the list with 24,479,209.

Former special assistant to the president Go remained strong in third place with 19,849,738.

Taguig Representative Cayetano placed fourth with 19,133,452 and former Philippine National Police chief Dela Rosa in fifth with 18,241,850.

Reelectionist senators Angara, Pimentel and Nancy Binay made it to the winning circle in sixth, 11th and 12th places with 17,599,029; 14,138,841 and 14,133,617, respectively.

Ilocos Governor Marcos, former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Tolentino and returning senator Ramon Revilla Jr. placed eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively, with 15,359381; 14,939,880 and 14,151,053.

Two other candidates from another party – reelectionist Senator Grace Poe and returning senator Lito Lapid – placed second and seventh, respectively, with 21,398,483 and 16,455,739.

Another HNP senatorial bet, reelectionist Sen. JV Ejercito, is in close 13th place with 13,866,140.

None of the eight opposition bets from the Otso Diretso slate made it to the winning circle.

Reelectionist senator Bam Aquino obtained the highest rank among them in 14th place with 13,753,118.

The figures represent votes cast from 83,476 of the 85,769 clustered precincts or 97.3 percent.

With about 2.7 percent remaining votes to be tallied, it remained statistically possible for Ejercito and Aquino to enter the Top 12 as of yesterday afternoon. 

Marawi vote

Despite criticisms that Duterte abandoned his promise to rebuild Marawi, seven of senatorial candidates allied with him landed in the top spot in the city’s vote count.

Partial unofficial data received by the PPCRV server showed Marawi native and Otso-Diretso senatorial bet Samira Gutoc garnering the most number of votes in the city with 30,350. 

The top seven Duterte-allied senators based on the city’s vote count are Go, who placed second; Dong Mangundadatu, third; Dela Rosa, fourth; Villar, Pimentel, Angara, who placed fifth, eighth, and ninth, respectively, and Cayetano, 11th. 

The other senatorial candidates who have so far made it to the Top 12 in Marawi are Poe and Aquino, Lapid and Faisal Mangondato.

Despite the closure of Boracay Island, voters in Aklan voted for six administration candidates.

Villar led the partial unofficial results of the PPCRV for Aklan with 171,175 votes. 

The five other senatorial candidates endorsed by Duterte who entered the top 12 in Aklan are Go, Cayetano, Angara, Ejercito and Pimentel.

Boracay residents objected to the closure of the island to tourists when Duterte described it as a cesspool and ordered it cleaned up.

Davao vote

As expected, 12 of 13 administration senatorial candidates made it to the top 12 in Davao City.

Of the 13, only Jiggy Manicad failed to make it.

Although Poe had been topping surveys, she only placed 13th in the partial unofficial data received by the PPCRV from Davao City.

Voters in Naga City, Camarines Sur, hometown of Vice President Leni Robredo, naturally supported candidates of the opposition Otso Diretso.

Aside from the eight opposition candidates, Naga residents also voted for Poe, Villar, Cayetano and Angara.

None among the opposition candidates made it to the top 12 in Ilocos Norte.

In Cavite, which is believed to be the turf of Revilla, he only placed 8th in the PPCRV quick count.

As expected, Roxas got the most humber of votes, 326,883, in his home province of Capiz.


Dela Rosa expressed sympathy to the opposition senatorial candidates after none of them made it to the winners circle and wished them luck next time. 

“I hope they will try next time, maybe they’ll get lucky,” Dela Rosa said, adding he is happy and thankful that millions of Filipinos believe in his capacity.

He said he would do anything to give back to the people who trusted and elected him.

He vowed to be “a lawmaker that can get things done.”

“I will never fail them,” he said.

Dela Rosa said he would take a short break and focus on his fitness, noting he gained weight during the campaign period. 

He said his heart goes out for his colleagues who lost in the senatorial race.

Meanwhile, Tolentino thanked the people who voted for him as well as President Duterte and the Iglesia ni Cristo for their endorsement.

Go thanked Duterte and his family for honing and exposing him to the genuine Duterte brand of service, and the people who made him win in the senatorial race. 

Now that the election is over, Go said it’s time to start working for the good of the country and the people. – With Edu Punay, Evelyn Macairan, Robertzon Ramirez

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