2019 Philippine Senate election

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2019 Philippine Senate election

← 2016 May 13, 2019 2022 →

12 (of the 24) seats to the Senate of the Philippines
13 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
  Francis Pangilinan (cropped).jpg Koko Pimentel IAEA cropped.jpg Sen. Pres Vicente Sotto (cropped2).jpg
Leader Francis Pangilinan Koko Pimentel Tito Sotto
Party Liberal PDP-Laban NPC
Alliance Otso Diretso HNP HNP
Last election 5 seats, 31.30% of vote Did not participate 2 seats, 10.07% of vote
Current seats 5 4 4
Seats needed 1 2 2
Seats up 1 2 1

  Nancy Binay - 2019 (cropped).jpg Cynthia Villar.jpg Senator Angara (cropped).jpg
Leader Nancy Binay Cynthia Villar Sonny Angara
Party UNA Nacionalista LDP
Alliance None HNP HNP
Last election 1 seat, 7.64% of vote 0 seats, 0.85% of vote Did not participate
Current seats 2 2 1
Seats needed 2 2 1
Seats up 2 2 1

Incumbent Senate President

Tito Sotto

The 2019 election of members to the Senate of the Philippines will be the 33rd election of members to the Senate of the Philippines for a six-year term.

The seats of 12 senators elected in 2013 will be contested during this election, and the senators elected in this election will serve up to June 30, 2025. The winners in this election will join the winners of the 2016 election to form the 18th Congress of the Philippines. The senators elected in 2016 will serve until June 30, 2022.

The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), the ruling party headed by President Rodrigo Duterte is expected lead its own administration coalition. The opposition is expected to be led by the Liberal Party, headed by Vice President Leni Robredo, its de facto leader. Other opposition coalitions may be set up.

The Senate election is held concurrently with elections to the House of Representatives and local officials above the barangay level.

Electoral system[edit]

Senate elections in the Philippines are conducted via the plurality-at-large voting system, where the entire country is one at-large "district". Each voter can select up to twelve candidates (one vote per candidate), and the twelve candidates with the highest total number of votes are elected.

Senators are term limited to two consecutive terms, although they are eligible for a third non-consecutive term.[1] Only half of the seats are up in every senatorial election. The winning senators will succeed those elected in 2013, and will join those elected in 2016 in the 18th Congress.

Each party endorses a slate of candidates, typically not exceeding a 12-person ticket.[2] A party may also choose to invite "guest candidates" to complete its slate. The party may even include, with the candidates' consent, independent candidates and candidates from other parties as the party's guest candidates. Parties also may form coalitions to endorse a multi-party slate of candidates.

While the Philippines is a multi-party system, parties tend to group themselves into two major coalitions in midterm elections (e.g. Lakas-Laban vs NPC in 1995; PPC vs Puwersa ng Masa in 2001). This is opposed to senatorial elections in presidential election years where most presidential candidates also have senatorial slates. This results in an election where voters can choose between two major political forces. Sometimes a weaker third coalition is also formed.

Winning candidates are proclaimed by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), sitting as the National Board of Canvassers. Candidates are proclaimed senators-elect if the thirteenth-place candidate no longer has a mathematical chance of surpassing the twelfth-place candidate. Post-proclamation disputes are handled by the Senate Electoral Tribunal, a body composed of six senators and three justices from the Supreme Court.


2016 election[edit]

As the 2016 Senate election was held concurrently with the presidential election, most of the presidential candidates also put up their respective senatorial slates. These slates shared several candidates, although most of the shared candidates only campaigned with one slate. The presidential election was won by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), while the vice presidency was won by the Liberal Party's Leni Robredo, the representative from Camarines Sur.[3] Senator Bongbong Marcos disputed Robredo's victory, and his electoral protest is still pending at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.[4]

Koko Pimentel, Duterte's party-mate, was elected as President of the Senate in July 2016 by a large majority, while a handful of Liberal Party senators comprised the minority; they were later joined by other Liberal Party members who had earlier voted for Pimentel, forming a six-person minority bloc in the Senate.[5]

Pimentel resigned from the Senate presidency in May 21, 2018. He was replaced by Tito Sotto of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), who was elected by majority of the senators.[6]

Coalition for Change / Tapang at Malasakit Alliance[edit]

Senator Koko Pimentel, the leader of PDP-Laban and the Coalition for Change

In October 2017, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) was only considering to form a coalition with the Nacionalista Party for the 2019 senatorial elections.[7]

In November 2017, PDP-Laban reportedly released a "partial list" of their senatorial slate for the 2019 edition consisting of six people. The party's president Koko Pimentel clarified that the list was not finalized and remarked that there was "no party decision yet". In January 2018, the House Speaker announced that the 6 candidates were now official.[8] In February 2018, two more names were added to PDP-Laban's potential slate.[9]

Pimentel announced a shortlist of 20 names in April 2018. It included himself and the five other senators that are members of the majority bloc, several administration officials, representatives, and private citizens. Pimentel said that his list was not approved by Alvarez when he released it.[10]

By August 2018, Pimentel wrote to Duterte of their party's prospective candidates for the Senate. Pimentel divided the names into three groups: members of PDP-Laban, outsiders, and the incumbent senators of the majority bloc. Pimentel said that Duterte's decision would be final in the composition of their slate.[11]

Otso Diretso[edit]

Senator Francis Pangilinan the Otso Diretso leader in the Senate

In March 2018, a supposed Liberal Party slate was circulated on social media. The list of candidates included Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Sen. Bam Aquino, former Senators Teofisto Guingona III and Ramon Magsaysay Jr., former Pampanga Governor Eddie Panlilio, former Representative from Quezon Lorenzo Tañada III, Representative from Albay Edcel Lagman, Representative from Northern Samar Raul Daza, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, Representatives Jose Christopher Belmonte from Quezon City and Kaka Bag-ao from Dinagat Islands, and Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.[12] However, on April 2, Magsaysay said that he had no plans of returning to the Senate.[13] Lagman, Daza, and Belmonte all denied that they were running for senator. Alejano, meanwhile, neither confirmed nor denied his plans.[14] After multiple candidates denied interest in running, Senator Francis Pangilinan denied that this slate was an accurate list of Liberal Party candidates, as the official list had yet to be finalized.[12]

In April, Antonio Trillanes said that his Samahang Magdalo was cooperating with the Liberal Party, Akbayan and Tindig Pilipinas to put up an opposition coalition against the pro-Duterte parties.[15] On April 24, Liberal Party and other groups urged Mar Roxas to run.[16] By mid-May, the Liberal Party had settled on several names; however, Roxas himself declined to run. The Liberals intend to form a coalition with anti-Duterte groups, with the slate being named as "the Resistance".[17] In June, Alejano announced his intention to run.[18]

Leni Robredo announced that she accepted the role of opposition leader in the election, and they will release the line-up by mid-September. The line up may include former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was removed from office by a quo warranto petition.[19] By August, Roxas, in an interview at Robredo's radio show said that he was unsure of his plans in 2019.[20] In early September, a list of 18 possible candidates was publicized by the coalition. The list included incumbent senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, Magdalo representative Gary Alejano, former Department of Interior and Local Government secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, former Quezon representative Lorenzo "Erin" Tañada III, lawyer Jose Manuel "Chel" Diokno, former Bangsamoro Transition Committee member Samira Gutoc, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, former Akbayan representative Ibarra "Barry" Gutierrez III, actor Dingdong Dantes, former presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, writer Manuel Luis "Manolo" Quezon III, activist Leah Navarro, actress Agot Isidro, musician Jim Paredes, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, former Social Welfare secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman, and ex-chief justice Hilario Davide Jr.[21]

By October 2018, before the 2019 general elections, the Liberal Party formed the Otso Diretso, an electoral coalition led by the party that also comprises members of the Magdalo Party-List, Akbayan Citizens Action Party, and Akyson Demokratiko along with independent candidates.[22] The coalition hopes to drive a new political culture based on political leaders practicing "makiking, matuto, kumilos" (listen, learn, take action), each candidate emphasizing the need for government to listen to its citizens.[23] As part of the Liberal Party's efforts to instill this new political culture, it launched Project Makining in October 2018, a modern, nationwide listening campaign driven by volunteers. It aimed to find out what are important to Filipinos, the basis for the messaging, strategy, and platform of the coalition. [24]

Nationalist People's Coalition[edit]

Senate President Tito Sotto (NPC), HNP coalition leader in the Senate

By June 2017, Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), erstwhile chairman emeritus Danding Cojuangco returned as chairman, in an active leadership role. Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto said Cojuangco was reportedly unsatisfied with how the party was being run, as leadership cannot agree on what direction to take.[25]

The party has considered all of the eligible incumbents from the majority bloc to run in its slate as "Friends of the party". Sotto also said that Bam Aquino, the only non-term limited incumbent from the minority bloc, was also invited to run in their slate. Aquino is the nephew of NPC founder Cojuangco who Sotto said will personally help Aquino in the latter's campaign.[26] Sotto announced in July 2018 that Senator JV Ejercito and former senator Lito Lapid would run under the NPC banner. Ejercito said this is to avoid with him running together with his half-brother Jinggoy Estrada, under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino. Lapid was formerly from the now moribund Lakas-CMD.[27]

Hugpong ng Pagbabago, Nacionalista, and other alliances[edit]

De facto First Lady and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the leader of the HNP Party

Hugpong ng Pagbabago, Davao City mayor Sara Duterte's regional political party centered in the Davao Region formed in mid-2018, reportedly had national parties wanting to force alliances with.[28] By August, Hugpong signed alliances with the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People's Coalition, the National Unity Party and six other local parties.[29] In August, incumbent senator Cynthia Villar announced that she will seek reelection, while the coalition will also support the candidacies of governor Imee Marcos and representative Pia Cayetano.[30]

Partido Federal ng Pilipinas[edit]

A new political party called Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (Federal Party of the Philippines) was launched[31] and accredited by the Commission on Election on October 8, 2018.[32] It elected Land Bank of the Philippines director Jesus Hinlo as president.[33] On October 17, 2018, the party fielded three senatorial candidates in the 2019 midterm election namely Maria Socorro Manahan, Elmer Francisco, and Diosdado Padilla.[34]

Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi[edit]

Term-limited and retiring incumbents[edit]

The following are barred from running since they are on their second consecutive six-year term:

  • Francis Escudero (Independent)
    As of April 2018, Escudero is undecided on his plans. He noted that he is enticed to be a private citizen after his term ends.[35] He ultimately filed his candidacy to run for governor of Sorsogon under the NPC.[36]

Alan Peter Cayetano, who was on his second consecutive term, resigned from the Senate in order to become Secretary of Foreign Affairs on May 18, 2017. It left one vacant seat and since it was vacated less than three years before Cayetano's term expires, no special election will be held to fill the seat. Cayetano resigned as foreign affairs secretary on October 17, 2018 and filed candidacy as House representative from Taguig's 1st district.[43]

It's disputed if Koko Pimentel (PDP–Laban) is on his second term already, considering he only took over from Juan Miguel Zubiri's seat after the latter resigned and Pimentel won his electoral protest against him. See banned candidacies, below.

Planned debates[edit]

On February 28, 2019, Otso Diretso candidates Gary Alejano, Samira Gutoc, Florin Hilbay, and Romulo Macalintal wrote a letter to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), requesting to facilitate a debate with administration-supported party Hugpong ng Pagbabago.[44] Otso Diretso said that the debate "would benefit not only the senatorial aspirants, but mainly the voting public."[45] Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte slammed the former for being "fixated" on debates.[46] Prior to this, on February 25, the day of the 33rd anniversary of People Power Revolution, Otso Diretso had challenged the Hugpong ng Pagbabago candidates for public debate but none of them showed up in the event.[47] On March 8, the COMELEC rejected the request of debate by Otso Diretso.[48]


Half of the seats in the Senate, or the 12 seats disputed in odd-numbered years since 1995, are up in the 2019 senatorial election.

Incumbents not term limited[edit]

Seven incumbents filed candidacies for senator.

  • Sonny Angara (LDP)
    Angara was included in Senator Koko Pimentel's list of prospective candidates for the PDP-Laban-led coalition that he sent to President Duterte for approval.[11] Angara filed his candidacy on October 17.[49]
  • Bam Aquino (Liberal)
    Aquino was suggested by Senator Franklin Drilon to run.[50] Aquino filed his senatorial candidacy on October 16.[51]
  • Nancy Binay (UNA)
    Binay was included in Senator Koko Pimentel's list of prospective candidates for the PDP-Laban-led coalition that he sent to President Duterte for approval.[11]
  • JV Ejercito (NPC)
    Ejercito was nominated by Senate President Pimentel; Ejercito was non-committal if he would run.[52] He said by January 2018 that it depends on the decision of his father, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, as he prefers to avoid running with his half-brother Jinggoy Estrada.[53] By April, Pimentel revealed that they considered Ejercito over Estrada, saying that they prefer incumbents, and that it was his commitment to Ejercito.[54] Ejercito left the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, his father's party, in favor of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), and will be running under the NPC banner.[55]
  • Koko Pimentel (PDP–Laban)
    Pimentel filed a candidacy to run for Senator despite serving his second term. Under the Philippine Constitution only, one is only allowed to served two consecutive terms as Senator. Pimentel's candidacy was disputed by lawayters Ferdinand Topacio and Glenn Chong who filed cases before the Commission on Elections to disqualify Pimentel's candidacy. The Comelec dismissed the cases stating that Pimentel is eligible to run for another term due to being unable to serve his first term completely from 2007 to 2013 due to an electoral protest. Juan Miguel Zubiri served his seat until Pimentel was officially declared the winner.[56]
  • Grace Poe (Independent)
    Poe said in early July 2018 that she was unsure if she'd run in 2019, considering that she said that her husband was "traumatized" by what happened in 2016. Poe, who had been a guest candidate when she first ran in 2013, said she hasn't received any offers this time from any party to run.[57] Poe filed her senatorial candidacy on October 15 as an independent.[58]
  • Cynthia Villar (Nacionalista)
    Villar announced her candidacy in April 2018, adding that the Nacionalistas will field in Representative from Taguig Pia Cayetano, and Ilocos Norte governor Imee Marcos.[59]

Accepted candidacies[edit]

The filing of Certificate of Candidacies (COCs) was scheduled on October 1-5, 2018, although resolutions in the Senate and the House of Representatives pushed for the rescheduling of filing to October 11-17, 2018, as most parties have not yet finalized their senatorial slates. The commission acceded to Congress' requests, and filing ended on October 17.

The commission is expected to release a final list of candidates by January 23.[60] The commission accepted all of the certificate as it saw it as a clerical task not to discriminate when filing. This is the list of those who filed, as long as they have Wikipedia articles, or were elected into office above the barangay level, or served in the government in the assistant secretary level or above:

Party Name Last government position
Independent Vangie Abejo None
Independent Freddie Aguilar None
Liberal Gary Alejano Representative for Magdalo Party-List (since 2016)
Bagumbayan-VNP Raffy Alunan Secretary of the Interior and Local Government (1992–96)
LDP Sonny Angara Senator (since 2013)
Liberal Bam Aquino Senator (since 2013)
UNA Nancy Binay Senator (since 2013)
Nacionalista Pia Cayetano Representative from Taguig's 2nd district (since 2016)
PMM Melchor Chavez None
KDP Glenn Chong former Representative from Biliran
Makabayan Neri Colmenares Representative for Bayan Muna (2007–16)
PLM Leody de Guzman None
PDP-Laban Ronald dela Rosa Director-General of the Bureau of Corrections (2018)
Liberal Chel Diokno None
NPC JV Ejercito Senator (since 2013)
PMP Juan Ponce Enrile Senator (2004–16)
PMP Jinggoy Estrada Senator (2004–16)
KBL Larry Gadon None
PDP-Laban Bong Go Special Assistant to the President (2016–18)
Aksyon Florin Hilbay Solicitor-General (2015–16)
NPC Lito Lapid Senator (2004–16)
Independent Romulo Macalintal Election Lawyer
PDP-Laban Zajid Mangundadatu Representative from Maguindanao's 2nd district (since 2013)
Independent Jiggy Manicad None
Nacionalista Imee Marcos Governor of Ilocos Norte (since 2010)
Lakas Willie Ong None
Independent Sergio Osmeña III Senator (2010–16)
PDP-Laban Koko Pimentel Senator (since 2007)
Independent Grace Poe Senator (since 2013)
Lakas Bong Revilla Senator (2004–16)
UNA Dan Roleda Councilor from Manila's 4th district (1992–98)
Liberal Mar Roxas Secretary of the Interior and Local Government (2012–15)
Liberal Erin Tañada Representative from Quezon's 4th district (2004–13)
PDP-Laban Francis Tolentino Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs (2017–18)
Liberal Samira Gutoc-Tomawis Regional assemblyperson from Lanao del Sur's 1st district
Nacionalista Cynthia Villar Senator (since 2013)
  • All people running who were appointment in government shall deemed to have been resigned from their positions upon filing their candidacies.

Declared candidacies[edit]

These are the people who have personally publicly announced their intention to run for a Senate seat.

  • Party-list representative Gary Alejano (Magdalo)
    Alejano was suggested by Senator Antonio Trillanes to run. Alejano said that he would follow what the party decides on the matter.[61] Alejano was included in the senatorial slate named by Senator Francis Pangilinan in mid-May.[17] Alejano later announced his candidacy in June 2018, after accepting Magdalo's nomination. Trillanes said that Magdalo's nomination was unanimous.[18]
  • Senator Bam Aquino (Liberal)
    Aquino was presented in the first batch of the Liberal Party's Senate line-up in September 25, 2018.[62]
  • Former Party-list Representative Neri Colmenares (Makabayan)
    A three-term party-list congressman who represented Bayan Muna, Colmenares accepted the unanimous nomination of party-list organizations under the Makabayan umbrella as their standard-bearer in a party convention held on September 25, 2018. Having placed 20th overall in the 2016 senatorial elections as a candidate under the Grace Poe-led Partido Galing at Puso coalition, he might run as an independent without support from any major coalition this time but may be teaming up with another former congressman and media personality, Lorenzo "Erin" Tañada, under the Makabayan aegis (Tañada being its guest candidate) and with the support of people's organizations and cause-oriented groups.[63]
  • Former Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Jose Manuel Diokno (Liberal)
    Diokno was included in the Liberal Party senatorial slate named by Senator Francis Pangilinan in mid-May.[17] Diokno was presented on the first batch of the Liberal Party's Senate line-up in September 25, 2018.[62]
  • Bureau of Corrections Director Ronald dela Rosa (PDP–Laban)
    Dela Rosa, when he was still the chief of the Philippine National Police, was suggested by Senator Manny Pacquiao to run. Dela Rosa had earlier said that he was open to run for senator.[64] In September 2018, dela Rosa announced his intentions to run for a Senate seat, as he swore his oath in becoming a member of the ruling PDP-Laban.[65]
  • Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada
    Estrada stated he will run for senator because he wants to be in par with half-brother, senator JV Ejercito. He announced this on April 10, 2018, and wanted to run under the administration ticket, but if he would not be picked by them, he would still run as an independent. Estrada left the Senate in 2016 as a member of the United Nationalist Alliance after being term limited in 2016.[66]
  • Former Bangsamoro Transition Council member Samira Gutoc-Tomawis (Liberal)
    Gutoc-Tomawis was suggested by the Opposition bloc to run.[67]
  • Former Senator Lito Lapid (NPC)
    Lapid is "seriously considering" making a comeback to the upper chamber of Congress according to Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto.[68]
  • Romulo Macalintal, lawyer
    Macalintal, the lawyer of Leni Robredo on Bongbong Marcos' vice presidential protest against her, said that he will run as an independent candidate in Robredo's preferred coalition.[69]
  • Representative from Maguindanao Zajid Mangudadatu (PDP–Laban)
    Mangudadatu was suggested by Speaker Alvarez to run.[70]
  • Governor Imee Marcos (Nacionalista)
    Imee Marcos, Governor of Ilocos Norte and daughter of former President Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos.[71]
  • Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque (People's Reform Party)
    Roque's priority as of the moment was "to be the best spokesman that I can be for the president."[72] By October, Duterte successfully persuaded Roque not the run for the Senate, the latter ran as a nominee of the Luntiang Pilipinas in the party-list election, instead.[73] However, Roque changed his mind and filed his candidacy on the last day, running under the People's Reform Party of now deceased Miriam Defensor Santiago.[74]
  • Former Senator Bong Revilla (NPC)
  • Former Representative from Quezon Erin Tañada (Liberal)
    Tañada was suggested by Senator Franklin Drilon to run.[50] Tañada was included in the senatorial slate named by Senator Francis Pangilinan in mid-May.[17] Tañada was presented on the first batch of the Liberal Party's Senate line-up in September 25, 2018.[62]

Potential candidates[edit]

These persons were considered as potential candidates or have been named by someone else as a potential candidate.

  • Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales
    Morales was suggested by Senator Bam Aquino to run under their Resistance slate, however, Morales maintained that she will retire from government after her Ombudsmanship.[75]
  • Representative from Taguig Pia Cayetano (Nacionalista)
    Cayetano was suggested by Speaker Alvarez to run. In April, senator Cynthia Villar confirmed that Cayetano will run for the Senate under the Nacionalista banner.[72]
  • Representative from Ilocos Norte Rodolfo Fariñas (PDP–Laban)
    Fariñas was suggested by Senate President Pimentel to run.[52] Fariñas said that he prefers to retire instead after his term ends in 2019, for now.[76]
  • Jiggy Manicad (PDP–Laban), TV journalist
    Manicad, who hosted and reported for several GMA Network news programs, resigned on April 20, 2018 days after appearing as a choice in a Pulse Asia opinion poll. Manicad said that he shall enter a "new level of public service".[77] Pimentel said that Manicad was included in his shortlist as he was already a party member.[10]
  • Leah Navarro, singer
    Navarro was suggested by the Opposition bloc to run for senator.[67]
  • Former Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manolo Quezon
    Quezon was suggested by the Opposition bloc to run.[67]
  • Former party-list Representative Barry Gutierrez (Akbayan)
    Gutierrez was included in the Liberal Party senatorial slate named by Senator Francis Pangilinan in mid-May.[17]
  • Representative from Bataan Geraldine Roman (PDP–Laban)
    Roman was suggested by Speaker Alvarez to run.[72]
  • Former Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas (Liberal)
    Roxas declined to run again. Roxas lost the 2016 presidential election.[17] When sought for comments in May 2018, Roxas said that he'll "cross that bridge" when it gets there.[78] When asked in August 2018, Roxas was still unsure of his plans, in an interview at Leni Robredo's radio show.[20]
  • Presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino (Independent)
    Tolentino was suggested by Speaker Alvarez to run.[72]
  • Representative from Oriental Mindoro Reynaldo Umali (PDP–Laban)
    Umali was suggested by Speaker Alvarez to run.[70]