2019 Senate Candidate Profiles: Batch Two

2019 Senate Candidate Profiles: Batch Two

More senators to get to know.

By Cristina Chi, Julienne Joven, and Jedd Ong


Last Monday, April 8, we released a piece summarizing the histories, stances, and platforms of 15 out of 62 candidates. Presenting This is part two of the four, with 14 more candidates to study up on. We’re going by alphabetical order, if you haven’t noticed.

We know it’s a lot to go through before you vote this coming May, but consider these pieces quick reviewers. We’re not saying you shouldn’t dive deeper and look to other publications and news platforms — doing so will most likely lead you to make better informed decisions, and help nuance your reasoning! But if you’re short of time, or don’t know where to begin, read on.




Jesus Caceres aims to lobby for higher incentives and allowances for teachers in the Senate and to allow teachers to renew their license every five years. He is, after all, a teacher, barber and radio broadcaster from Bicol, and among the underdogs in this year’s senatorial elections.

Though his name may not ring a bell to many (except during Catholic prayers), he is actually a former Sangguniang Kabataan chairman.

He has expressed his support for the current administration’s war on drugs and the pending charter change, but he is against the return of the death penalty, suggesting reclusion perpetua instead for corrupt officials.




(KDP) Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino

Toti Casino wants to upgrade Congress — literally. He wants to automate the lawmaking process from the ground-up and to computerize every aspect of Congress and the Senate to disseminate information better.

A former Information Technology (IT) consultant for the Commission on Elections, Casino envisions a “world-class system” that would include trained IT experts, which he says has never been done before. Casino is the former president of the Philippine Computer Society and is running under the one-year-old Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino (KDP) party.

Casino wants to amend the Automated Election System Law, saying that corrupt Comelec officials must be punished and held liable. He supports the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Casino is also against federalism. —CC



(NP) Nacionalista Party

Pia Cayetano is a self-proclaimed champion of women’s rights. She has also, in the past, supported President Rodrigo Duterte despite his sexual remarks and history of slut-shaming (which violates, well, women’s rights.)

Along with Imee Marcos and Cynthia Villar, she’s one of the few women candidates that the president openly supports in the 2019 senatorial run.

Cayetano made headlines last October for riding a bike to the Comelec when she filed her certificate of candidacy. She says that she is banking on her track record (and not her Cayetano last name) to reclaim another senate seat, having sponsored several bills such as the Sin Tax Reform Act that raised taxes on cigarettes and liquor, and the Graphic Health Warning Act that required cigarette packages to have photos of the hazards of smoking.  —CC


CHAVEZ, Melchor

(LPP) Labor Party Philippines

Melchor Chavez wants to be a Senator so badly that he has run for senate eight times since 1992. He‘s that reality show contestant who keeps showing up every season despite an already growing losing streak. He was even declared a nuisance five times by the Comelec.

The doggedly determined Chavez wants to run this time to “work alongside President Duterte” in the senate. (Never mind that the president isn’t a member of the Senate.)

The ex-journalist says that he would only support Duterte in the right issues, among them the campaign to eradicate illegal drugs.

Chavez wants to focus on solving landlessness and providing additional benefits for workers like early retirement. He opposes the extension of martial law in Mindanao.


He was formerly a member of the Marcos-founded Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.

.  —CC




Glenn Chong hates Smartmatic. As an advocate for fair and clean elections, the former Biliran representative asserts that these polling machines paved the way for Vice President Leni Robredo to cheat during the 2016 elections. If voted into Senate, Chong vows to reform the country’s elections by introducing a hybrid election system with manual counting in precincts plus an automated transmission.

Chong’s advocacy began in 2010 when he ran against the Espina dynasty for a second term in Biliran but lost, attributing this to electoral fraud. In December last year, his bodyguard Richard Santillan was ambushed and killed pushing his supporters to further back their “first and only Netizenator of the Philippines and the world.” Recently, he went on a campaign sortie to Hong Kong, accompanied by Mocha Uson.

Chong is running under the Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino, a new political party founded just last year by supporters of President Duterte.

 —Julienne Joven



(MKBYN) Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan

Neri Colmenares wants to represent the Philippine Left in the senate. As the chairman of MAKABAYAN and Bayan Muna, Colmenares prides himself in being a man of the people. His recent campaign video that went viral was essentially a six-minute feature of the fishermen suffering from Chinese aggression on our waters in the West Philippine Sea.

During his stint as a congressman for nine years, Colmenares pushed bills to abolish pork barrel, increase the SSS pension, and compensate Martial Law victims.

Disappointed with the short-lived negotiations between the Duterte admin and the Left calling the President’s early promises as “just BS he now vows to repeal the TRAIN Law and its unjust taxation, abolish VAT on electricity and other basic goods, and increase pensions and minimum wage if he becomes senator.

Despite his defeat in the 2016 senatorial elections, Colmenares is trying his luck again this year as an independent, but campaigning together with opposition bets to take the admin to task.




(PLM) Partido Lakas ng Masa

Manggagawa naman.” Labor leader Ka Leody De Guzman started out in life as a factory worker for 12 years. But right before De Guzman’s college graduation, Ninoy Aquino was shot, leading the former to become involved in fighting against the dictatorship.

He is currently the chairman of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, and is involved with the NGO PhilRights and Bulig Pilipinas.

De Guzman’s priority bill if elected is to end contractualization and help workers provide more for their children. “Yung mga manggagawang lumilikha ng halos lahat ng bagay sa mundo bakit sila yung walang tahanan?” he asks.

He promises to push for wider people’s representation in government, end gender discrimination, and cancel illegitimate debts to focus on social services, among many other pro-poor policies. Interestingly, De Guzman has captured not only laborers but also a growing young fanbase online; they fiercely campaign for the labor leader, chanting “Ka Leody is our Lodi.” —JJ



(PDP-LABAN) Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan

In the span of two years, Bato dela Rosa has become a household name as the former Philippine National Police chief and loyal aide to President Duterte. Under dela Rosa, the admin was able to enact the War on Drugs which, according to a count from last year, has claimed more than 20,000 lives.

His supporters hail his frankness of speech, as he publicly says things like, “Wala po akong alam [sa inflation],” and “Ang mga tao… pumupunta [sa sorties] para sumaya.”

Dela Rosa says he is running to help the president push for bills quicker from inside the Senate. As a law enforcer, he promises that his first bill will be the restoration of death penalty for corrupt politicians and drug traffickers. Dela Rosa clarifies that this will not include pushers and users, and instead will be his attempt at capturing the big fish.

He also wants to create a Department of Corrections, and push for bills that will counter criminality and terrorism.





Known online as “Woke Lolo,” Chel Diokno is a favorite among millennials. Sporting teal as his campaign color, the human rights lawyer has been making waves with his feisty debate quips and “Netflix and Chel” responses to admin critics.

But beyond the barbs, Diokno wants to put his experience in human rights work into policies that fix the justice system. He was the founding dean of the De La Salle University College of Law and Chairman of Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), and is the son of “Ka Pepe” Diokno, founder of the Commission on Human Rights and martial law detainee.

The neophyte candidate wants to be the voters’ “Boses ng Katarungan” in the senate. His platform includes ridding the system of corruption, opposing TRAIN, abolishing endo, and strengthening the 4Ps. The first bill he would author would be amending the Witness Protection Act. Diokno is running under Otso Diretso. —JJ



(NPC) Nationalist’s People’s Coalition

JV Ejercito calls himself, and styles his advocacies around, the moniker “Mr. Healthcare.”  His legislative track record is easy to follow (read: actually Googleable). Some bills he has notably helped pass include the Universal Health Care law, and the Mental Health Act. His campaign website seems to be quite proud of the fact that he’s a fairly productive legislator, with over 41 bills and laws passed over the course of his term to date.
Progressive as a number of his initiatives and legislative priorities sound however, it bears in mind as well that the guy still has quite a bit of baggage following him around. Whether it be (cleared) Ombudsman graft charges in 2016 for improper firearms purchases, dodgy campaign finance accusations unanswered from his last senatorial campaign, or his status as a member of one of the country’s most controversial political families of the past two decades, there’s still a lot left to scrutinize, with regards to his past and future. He’s as establishment as establishment gets. —Jedd Ong



(PMP) Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino

To borrow from an old joke: Juan Ponce Enrile is older than the ballpoint pen. And Israel. And Mickey Mouse. And chocolate chip cookies. And…pretty much everyone else in Philippine politics, at this point.

He’s seen (and been) it all, be it as a member of the Marcos cabinet as beleaguered Defense Minister, a member of the (Cory) Aquino cabinet…also as beleaguered Defense Minister, a (fairly prolific) lawmaker and senate president, a PDAF scandal “alumnus” — you name whatever political role or character or controversy there is to name in the book, and he’s probably done and/or seen and/or lived through its happenings.

Heck, he’s seen so many extensive and controversial things happen to him, that he’s actually back where he started — which is to say — with the Marcoses, preaching all that is “good,” false, and revised about the martial law regime.  —JO




Agnes Escudero calls Indigenous People’s (IP) rights her core advocacy. Many of her key platforms, such as the aforementioned barangay industrialization act, seem to align with such. The act aims to provide more targeted livelihood and infrastructure provision programs for indigenous people in hard-to-reach geographic areas all over the country. She also recently took to bat for teacher’s rights, and increased budget allocations for DepEd in the senatorial debate held last Feb 24.

On other policy and news matters, she recently made headlines for her hardline policy stance against divorce legalization, stating that churches were adequate enough institutions to serve the needs of battered, raped, and abused wives (no, really).

She also has, through her role as the current secretary-general of the Tribal Government of the Philippines, admitted to cooperating with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and one of its most controversial affiliate indigenous peoples’ paramilitary organization: the Citizen Armed Force Geographic Units (CAFGU). The group has recently come under fire for the slaying of a 15-year old Lumad high school student.  —JO




One of the first things that pops up on Google when typing in the name “Jinggoy Estrada” is a headline detailing his fight to clear his name in a plunder case. Perhaps that is all one needs to know when understanding who Jinggoy is and what he does. He’s perhaps most notable in today’s media circles for having been one of the three ex-senators implicated in the Janet Napoles whistleblower case a few years back, making off with government funds to the tune of a cool P150 million to -P183 million. Cue the dollar dollar bills.

What else? He’s apparently filedover 600 bills in the senate,” though most still remain pending various committee approvals and haven’t yet reached a second reading. He’s a co-author of the Domestic Worker’s Act, better known as the “Kasambahay Law.” He also has a pretty mean mugshot. Pretty sure there’s a smize joke in there somewhere.  —JO



(PFP) Partido Federal ng Pilipinas

Elmer Francisco is a physicist, businessman, and perhaps most interestingly and inherent to his campaign ethos, a jeepney maker. He’s currently the chairman and CEO of his own company, 1111 Empire Inc, and previously served as the chief operating officer of his family’s eponymous jeepney manufacturing firm: Francisco Motors.

His advocacies include the formation in the Philippines of a “strong federal government,” the “further development and enrichment of the transport sector,” climate change mitigation, and the aggressive development of the country’s ICT industries, amongst other broadly, if lightly sketched-out platforms. Good to note here as well that Francisco’s party — the PFP — is a self-proclaimed Duterte administration ally, and wishes someday to have him chair the party.

He’s probably the only senatoriable in the race as well who is also working on a cryptocurrency-based jeepney payment system, for what that’s worth. That last wrinkle probably makes him a fringe COIN-dedate worth looking at. Sorry.  —JO

##ELECTIONS2019 #politics

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