List of special elections to the Philippine Congress

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These are the special elections (known outside the Philippines and the United States as by-elections) to the Congress of the Philippines. The Philippines holds two types of special elections: those that were supposed to be held on election day but were delayed, and those held after an office has become vacant. This article describes the second type.


As stipulated in Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6645 approved on December 28, 1987, once a vacancy occurs in the Senate at least 18 months, or in the House of Representatives at least (1) year, before the next scheduled election, the Commission on Elections, upon receipt of a resolution from the chamber where the vacancy occurred, shall schedule a special election. The special election will then be held not earlier than 45 days and not later than 90 days from the date of the resolution.[1]

However, Republic Act No. 7166 approved on November 26, 1991, amended parts of R.A. No. 6645. When a vacancy in the House of Representatives occurs before one year before the expiration of the term, the special election shall be held not earlier than 60 days and not later than 90 days after occurrence of the vacancy. For the Senate, if the vacancy occurs one year before the expiration of the term, the special election shall be held on the day of the next succeeding regular election.[2]

With the passed of Republic Act No. 8295 in 1997, if there is only one candidate running for the position, that candidate would be proclaimed as the winner, and an election would no longer be held.[3] This is unlike in regularly scheduled elections where voting would still be held, and the candidate has to get one vote in order to be elected.

Not all vacancies that occurred a year before the next regular election resulted in a special election. To save money, the Speaker appoints a caretaker representative from a nearby district. In same cases a caretaker representative was appointed while an election date was considered.

As with general elections, special elections are usually scheduled on a Monday. In some cases, election days are declared as holidays.

House of Representatives[edit]

Since the 1998 elections, there have been two types of elected representatives, those who represent single-member districts and those elected via the party-list system. When a vacancy occurs for a party-list representative, the next-ranked nominee from the party replaces his predecessor. For district representatives, a special election will be held to determine who shall succeed the predecessor. During the Third Philippine Republic, where representatives had four-year terms, the special election was held together with the mid-term election.

A special election will not be held if the vacancy occurred less than a year before the next regularly scheduled election.

District Legislature Date Predecessor Reason Winner
Philippine Legislature
Manila–1st 1st March 30, 1908 Dominador Gomez Expelled on February 11, 1908 Dominador Gomez
August 11, 1908 Resigned his rights as representative on June 18, 1908 Justo Lukban
Cavite January 19, 1909 Rafael Palma Left office after being appointed to the Philippine Commission on July 1, 1908. Emiliano Tria Tirona
Surigao 2nd October 14, 1910 Manuel Gavieres Died in 1912. Inocencio Cortes
La Laguna–1st December 13, 1910 Potenciano Malvar Left office after being appointed as governor of La Laguna Marcos Paulino
Batanes September 5, 1911 Teofilo Castillejos Died in 1912. Vicente Barsana
Zambales October 3, 1911 Alberto Barreto Left office after being appointed judge of the Court of First Instance on July 20, 1911. Gabriel Alba
Ilocos Sur–1st 3rd October 13, 1913 Vicente Singson Encarnacion Left office after being appointed to the Philippine Commission. Alberto Reyes
Mindoro March 26, 1914 Macario Adriatico Resigned on March 1, 1914. Mariano Leuterio
Bulacan–1st May 15, 1914 Aguedo Velarde Died in 1914. Ambrosio Santos
Zambales July 22, 1914 Rafael Corpus Left office after being appointed as Director of Lands. Gabriel Alba
Iloilo–4th August 28, 1914 Amando Avanceña Resigned on June 30, 1914. Tiburcio Lutero
Negros Oriental–2nd October 1, 1914 Teofisto Guingona, Sr. Resigned on April 9, 1914. Leopoldo Rovira
Capiz–2nd October 10, 1914 Simeon Dadivas Died in 1914. Emilio Acevedo
Cebu–7th November 21, 1914 Eulalio Causing Resigned on October 13, 1914 Tomas Alonso
Rizal–2nd July 12, 1915 Sixto de los Angeles Died in 1915.
Leyte–4th September 18, 1915 Francisco Enage Resigned in 1915. Ruperto Kapunan
Negros Occidental–1st Melecio Severino Died in 1915.
Cebu–3rd 4th 1916 Filemon Sotto Left office after winning Senate seat in 1916. Vicente Urgello
Cavite 7th August 15, 1925 Augusto Reyes Died on July 3, 1925. Antero Soriano
Nueva Ecija March 22, 1926 Isauro Gabaldon Disqualified. Feliciano Ramoso
Tayabas–2nd 8th October 6, 1928 León G. Guinto, Sr. Left office after being appointed governor of Tayabas. Marcelo Boncan
Cavite 1929 Antero Soriano Died in 1929. Fidel Ibañez
Albay–3rd 9th 1932 Froilan Paverico Died on August 9, 1931; Julian Locsin was originally declared the winner, but Kare won on an election protest. Exequiel Kare
Mindoro April 23, 1932 Mariano Leuterio Died. Juan L. Luna
Batangas–1st February 18, 1933 Antonio de las Alas Left office after being appointed Secretary of Public Works and Communications. Ramon Diokno
National Assembly of the Philippines
Ilocos Norte–2nd 1st July 22, 1936 (none) General election winner Julio Nalundasan died on September 20, 1935, prior to taking office. Ulpiano Arzadon
Samar–2nd 1936 Serafin Marabut Left office after being appointed Secretary of Budget. Pascual Azanza
Leyte–4th 1936 Francisco Enage Left office after being appointed technical adviser to President Manuel L. Quezon Norberto Romualdez
Albay–3rd 2nd December 10, 1940 Pedro Sabido Left office after being appointed as Manager of the National Abaca and other Fibers Corporation.
Iloilo–2nd Ruperto Montinola Died.
Leyte–5th Ruperto Kapunan Died on February 4, 1939.
Nueva Ecija–2nd Felipe Buencamino Resigned in 1940.
Congress of the Philippines
Pangasinan–5th 1st March 3, 1947 Narciso Ramos Left office after being appointed Minister-counsellor to the United Nations on July 15, 1946 Cipriano Allas
Bukidnon March 11, 1947 Carlos Fortich, Sr. Died on October 12, 1946. Remedios Fortich
Iloilo–1st Jose Zulueta Resigned on May 28, 1945, subsequently appointed Secretary of the Interior on June 4, 1946. Mateo Nonato
Cebu–6th November 11, 1947 Nicolas Rafols Died on May 2, 1947. Manuel Zosa
Iloilo–4th March 23, 1948 Gaudencio Dimaisip Left office after winning Iloilo governorship on a November 11, 1947 special election. Mariano Peñaflorida
Leyte–1st Carlos S. Tan Left office after winning Senate seat in 1947. Jose Martinez
Rizal–2nd 2nd November 13, 1951 Emilio de la Paz Died on August 30, 1951 Isaias R. Salonga
Albay–1st 3rd November 8, 1955 Lorenzo P. Ziga Died on November 4, 1954 Tecla San Andres Ziga
Samar–1st Gregorio Tan Eladio Balite
Batangas–1st 5th November 12, 1963 Apolinario Apacible Died in 1963. Luis Lopez
Negros Occidental–1st Vicente Gustillo, Sr. Died on December 17, 1962. Armando Gustillo
Iloilo–3rd November 9, 1965 Ramon Tabiana Died on December 20, 1964. Gloria Tabiana
Ilocos Norte–1st 6th November 4, 1967 Antonio Raquiza Left office after being appointed Secretary of Public Works on August 24, 1966. Roque Ablan, Jr.
Northern Samar November 14, 1967 Eladio Balite Died in 1967. Eusebio Moore
Agusan del Norte–2nd 9th August 30, 1993 Edelmiro Amante Amante resigned on September 14, 1992 after being appointed as Executive Secretary. Amante then resigned as Executive Secretary on 1993 after being rejected by the Commission on Appointments. Edelmiro Amante
Capiz–1st Gerardo Roxas, Jr. Died on April 4, 1993 Mar Roxas
Rizal–1st March 7, 1994 Manuel Sanchez Disqualified for not being a Filipino citizen on December 7, 1993. Gilberto Duavit
Zamboanga del Norte–1st 12th August 26, 2002 Romeo Jalosjos Dropped from the rolls Cecilia Jalosjos Carreon
Isabela–4th May 12, 2003 Antonio Abaya Died on February 26, 2003 Giorgidi Aggabao
Cebu–5th 13th May 30, 2005 Joseph Ace Durano Left office after being appointed Secretary of Tourism on November 30, 2004. Ramon Durano VI
Cagayan–2nd 15th March 12, 2011 Florencio Vargas Died on July 22, 2010. Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso
Ilocos Sur–1st May 28, 2011 Ronald Singson Resigned on March 1, 2011. Ryan Singson
Zambales–2nd February 4, 2012 Antonio M. Diaz Died on August 3, 2011. Jun Omar Ebdane
Negros Occidental–5th June 2, 2012 Iggy Arroyo Died on January 26, 2012. Alejandro Mirasol


Death is the most common reason to trigger a special election, causing almost half of the instances. Resignation is the second most common, both from leaving office to assume another position, and for other reasons. There had been two disqualifications, or the representative should not have been able to run at all, and one was "dropped from the rolls", or removed from office after being convicted with finality of a crime. No special election has yet been held after a member had been expelled by the House of Representatives.

Reason for vacancy Total  %
Death 26 48%
Left office to assume another position 17 31%
Resigned for a reason other than leaving office to assume another position 8 15%
Disqualified 2 4%
Dropped from the rolls 1 2%
Total 54 100%


From 1917 to 1934, senators are elected via senatorial districts; a vacancy mid-term will be filled up by a special election.

Starting from 1941, senators elected at-large nationwide, have 6-year terms, with senators elected via staggered elections: every two years, eight out of the 24 senators were elected from 1940 to 1972, and 12 out of 24 senators every three years since 1987. In cases where a senator left office before the expiration of his term, a special election on the day of the next regularly scheduled Senate election was held to fill up the vacancy, as long as the seat per se won't be contested on that election day. There had been three cases where that happened:

Legislature Original Winner Term ending
Senator Vacancy event Senator Date
4th PL Aquilino Calvo Resigned February 26, 1917 Matias Gonzales May 5, 1917 October 3, 1919
5th PL Francisco Liongson Died February 20, 1919 Ceferino de Leon October 25, 1919 1922
6th PL Pedro Guevara Appointed Resident Commissioner to the U.S. Ramon J. Fernandez October 3, 1923 June 6, 1925
7th PL Santiago Lucero Died November 2, 1925 Luis Morales March 23, 1926 June 2, 1928
7th PL Tomas Gomez Died July 28, 1926 Pastor Salazar June 2, 1928
7th PL Jose Ma. Arroyo Died March 8, 1927 Jose B. Ledesma July 21, 1927 June 2, 1928
2nd Fernando Lopez (Liberal) Elected as Vice president, gave up seat on December 30, 1949 Felisberto Verano (Nacionalista) November 13, 1951 December 30, 1953
3rd Carlos P. Garcia (Nacionalista) Elected as Vice president, gave up seat on December 30, 1953 Roseller T. Lim (Nacionalista) November 8, 1955 December 30, 1957
12th Teofisto Guingona (Lakas-NUCD-UMDP) Appointed as Vice president on February 7, 2001 Gregorio Honasan (Independent) May 14, 2001 June 30, 2004


Leaving office to assume another position is the most common reason to trigger a Senate special election; in fact, out of four such instances, three involve the assumption of the vice presidency.

Reason for vacancy Total  %
Left office to assume another position 4 57%
Death 2 29%
Resigned for a reason other than leaving office to assume another position 1 14%
Total 7 100%


In 1949, Senator Fernando Lopez (who was on his second year of service in the Senate) was elected Vice President of the Philippines. To fill the vacancy, a special election was held separately with Senators whose terms ended in that year:[4]

e • d Summary of the November 13, 1951 Philippine Senate special election result
Rank Candidate Party Votes %
1. Felixberto Verano Nacionalista 873,457 47.7%
2. Cornelio Villareal Liberal 609,303 33.3%
3. Prospero Sanidad Liberal (Independent) 223,810 12.2%
4. Carlos Tan Liberal (Independent) 124,975 6.8%
Note: A total of 5 candidates ran for senator.


In 1953, Senator Carlos P. Garcia (who was on his second year of service in the Senate) was elected Vice President of the Philippines. To fill the vacancy, a special election was held separately with Senators whose terms ended in that year:[5]

e • d Summary of the November 8, 1955 Senate special election result
Rank Candidate Party Votes %
1. Roseller T. Lim Nacionalista 1,102,979 61.4%
2. Simeon Toribio Liberal 688,913 38.4%
3. Avelino P. Garcia Independent 4,378 0.2%
Total valid votes 1,796,270 100.0%
Source: Commission on Elections


In 2001, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo succeeded Joseph Estrada after the 2001 EDSA Revolution, leaving the office of the vice president vacant. Arroyo appointed Teofisto Guingona (who was serving his second year as senator) as vice president later that year but prior to the 2001 Senate election. The Commission on Elections ruled that instead of twelve, the electorate will vote for thirteen senators, with the thirteenth-placed candidate serving Guingona's unexpired term of three years. In purposes of term limits, that senator would've deemed to have served a full six-year term.

e • d Summary of the May 14, 2001 Philippine Senate election results
Rank Candidate Coalition Party Votes %
1. Noli de Castro Puwersa ng Masa1 Independent 16,237,386 55.09%
2. Juan Flavier PPC Lakas 11,735,897 39.82%
3. Sergio Osmeña III PPC PDP-Laban 11,593,389 39.33%
4. Franklin Drilon PPC Independent 11,301,700 38.34%
5. Joker Arroyo PPC Lakas 11,262,402 38.21%
6. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. PPC Independent 11,250,677 38.17%
7. Manny Villar PPC Independent 11,187,375 37.96%
8. Kiko Pangilinan PPC Liberal 10,971,896 37.23%
9. Edgardo Angara Puwersa ng Masa LDP 10,805,177 36.66%
10. Ping Lacson Puwersa ng Masa LDP 10,535,559 35.74%
11. Loi Ejercito Puwersa ng Masa Independent 10,524,130 35.71%
12. Ralph Recto PPC Lakas 10,480,9402 35.56%
13. Gringo Honasan3 Puwersa ng Masa Independent 10,454,527 35.47%
14. Juan Ponce Enrile Puwersa ng Masa LDP 9,677,209 32.83%
15. Miriam Defensor Santiago Puwersa ng Masa PRP 9,622,742 32.65%
16. Dong Puno Puwersa ng Masa LDP 8,701,205 29.52%
17. Wigberto Tañada PPC Liberal 8,159,836 27.68%
18. Orly Mercado Puwersa ng Masa Independent 7,395,092 25.09%
19. Obet Pagdanganan PPC Lakas 7,185,415 24.38%
20. Ernesto Herrera PPC Lakas 6,801,861 23.08%
21. Winnie Monsod PPC Aksyon 6,728,728 22.83%
22. Nina Rasul Puwersa ng Masa Independent 5,222,490 17.72%
23. Jamby Madrigal Puwersa ng Masa LDP 5,043,043 17.11%
24. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato PPC Independent 4,831,501 16.39%
25. Perfecto Yasay Independent 4,557,364 15.46%
26. Ombra Tamano Puwersa ng Masa LDP 3,548,480 12.04%
27. Reuben Canoy Puwersa ng Masa LDP 3,542,460 12.02%
28. Homobono Adaza Nacionalista 770,647 2.61%
29. Rod Navarro Independent 652,012 2.21%
30. Manuel Morato Independent 625,789 2.12%
31. Moner Bajunaid PDSP 503,437 1.71%
32. Oliver Lozano KBL 470,572 1.60%
33. Melchor Chavez KBL 244,553 0.83%
34. Camilo Sabio Independent 230,759 0.78%
35. Norma Nueva KBL 83,700 0.28%
37. Juan Casil KBL 74,481 0.25%
38. Eddie Gil Partido Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa 15,522 0.05%
Turnout 29,474,309 86.39%
Note: A total of 38 candidates ran for senator. Source: COMELEC (vote totals), NCSB (turnout)
^1 Guest candidate
^2 18,000 votes deducted from Ralph G. Recto from Zamboanga del Norte as per Resolution No. NBC 01-003
^3 Elected to serve the unexpired term (until June 2004) of Teofisto Guingona, Jr., who was appointed Vice President on February 2001.

Former senator Arturo Tolentino and others sued the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to set aside the proclamation of the thirteen senators in 2001. In Tolentino vs. COMELEC, the Supreme Court ruled that the commission did not comply with the requirements of R.A. 6645, nor did the commission "give formal notice that it would proclaim as winner the senatorial candidate receiving the 13th highest number of votes in the special election." However, the court ruled that while the commission failed to give notice of the time of the special election, it did not negate the calling of such election, "indispensable to the election's validity." Since R.A. 6645 as amended "charges the voters with knowledge of this statutory notice and COMELEC's failure to give the additional notice did not negate the calling of such special election, much less invalidate it", the court dismissed the petition for lack of merit and allowed the result of the election to stand.[6]

The "thirteenth" senator[edit]

There had been four instances in the Fifth Republic where a seat was vacated exactly mid-way through the senator's term due to election to another office. In all cases, the thirteenth-placed senator in the immediately preceding election was not given the former's seat since the vacancy occurred after the election.

In all of those cases, the thirteenth-placed candidate was not given the vacant seat as the voters elected for only twelve senators.[7]

Note that this won't be a problem for senators elected prior to 1971, as long as they are elected to a new position prior to the second senate election of their terms (there were two elections for the senate for senators at that time). For senators elected since 1987, their seats will be vacant since there will be no intervening senate elections from the day they gave up their seat up to the expiration of their term.


External links[edit]