2019 Senate Candidate Profiles: Batch Three

By Cristina Chi, Enzo Escober, Julienne Joven, Jedd Ong, Jam Pascual

 

ICYMI: We made it our editorial project this month to give you comprehensive, easy-to-understand breakdowns on the candidates of this year’s senatorial race. Here’s where you can read Batch 1 and Batch 2.

Doing the research for this batch of senatoriables, we realized that many candidates made the shift to federalism a key stance in their campaigning and platforms. We highly recommend you guys study up on federalism as a system of government through trusted sources. To start, you can read our Saved You A Google on federalism its history, pros, cons, and the implications of introducing it to the Philippines.

 

[READ: Saved You A Google: A simple guide to federalism]

 

We’ve got 16 candidates for this batch. Let’s begin.

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GADDI, Charlie

(IND)

Not much is known about Charlie Gaddi, as a senator running independently, and one of the few candidates whose campaign posters aren’t strewn about from here to the horizon. His platform is interesting, but too generic to be promising: he’s anti-political dynasty and anti-corruption (can we all just agree that these stances have to be in everybody’s platform right off the bat?) and pro-federalism, though he himself has made no meaningful elaborations on why federalism would be a good thing for the country systemically. He attributes the problem of contractualization to a lack of jobs in the Philippines (how the two issues are connected, exactly, is unclear). When asked on his thoughts on banning mining in the Philippines, he gave a grossly inaccurate figure of the mining industry’s GDP, saying it’s $875 billion, when really it’s around $3.2 billion. He also wants to suspend the excise tax of the TRAIN law. —Jam Pascual

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GADON, Larry

(KDP)

Larry Gadon is a self-avowed, “true-blooded Marcos loyalist,” is part of the Pro-Duterte Constitutional Reformers to Federalism, was part of the legal team of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was the one who filed the impeachment complaint against former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and has even offered to be a lawyer for the Duterte youth. Here is a video of him cussing at Sereno-supporting protesters. Here is a video of him lashing out at a student for contesting his pro-Marcos stance, and demanding said student be kicked out of the venue. Here is a video of him being extremely Islamophobic, clarifying his anti-Bangsamoro Basic Law stance and calling for the killing of all Muslims, including the children, in Mindanao. The most consistent thing about Larry Gadon as a candidate is, to put it lightly, his temper. —JP

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GENEROSO, CONRADO

(KATIPUNAN) Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi

The former spokesman of Duterte’s constitution drafting committee has been so committed to the cause of federalism that he actually calls himself “Heneral Federalismo”. He even asks voters to look for the name “GENPEDERALISMO” on the ballot. And while Generoso may not be on Duterte’s senator slate, his opinions on certain issues seem to merit a spot. On the arrest of Maria Ressa which took place earlier this year, he takes no convincing stand on whether or not the arrest was right or warranted. On the drug war’s issue of police brutality, he implies that justice can be properly served in court, even though many points have been repeatedly made of the drug war being pointedly anti-poor, and apathetic to due process. Giving a vote to Generoso (I’m sorry HENERAL FEDERALISMO) means giving a vote to federalism. Research as much as you can on that system of government, and the implications of this country shifting to that system, before casting that vote. —JP

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GO, CHRISTOPHER “BONG”

(PDP-LBN)

Among every senatoriable Duterte has personally endorsed, Bong Go is the one who has spent the most money on campaign ads, incurring a total adspend of a whopping P432,498,647. (You could repair the Notre Dame with that kind of money.) It is also interesting, to say the least, that Bong Go’s actual net worth is P12.85 million. This disparity hasn’t eked any comments out of the former special assistant to the president, who has been President Duterte’s personal aide even when Duterte was still a congressman, taking calls and doing errands. Aside from that, Go has no experience in public service. That hasn’t stopped him from campaigning and showing his colors as a candidate, opportunistically using the murder of nine-year-old Christine Lee Silawan to promote his pro-death penalty stance. What else? Here he is takin off his shirt to prove he doesn’t have a back tattoo that ties him to drug syndicates. —JP

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GUIGAYUMA, JUNBERT

(LPP)

Junbert Guigayuma’s backstory is a reminder of the extreme poverty faced by indigenous tribes. A Subanen datu born into a royal family in Misamis, he says he was given up for adoption at nine months old in exchange for P300 and 3 kilos of rice. Raised by a Christian family, he came to identify himself as a “born again Lumad,” serving as both a tribal leader and a bishop for various church groups.

Quite fittingly, Guigayuma has made indigenous people’s rights his priority. He claims that he got more than 20 million indigenous people to sign his proposed anti-land grabbing bill.

Another of Guigayuma’s platforms is his shaky, oversimplified zero domestic-worker policy, which aims to prohibit domestic workers from seeking employment abroad, converting them instead to call center agents.

He’s also opposed to the extension of martial law in Mindanao, criticizing the government’s lack of dialogue with the public.

Despite this however, Guigayuma remains satisfied with the Duterte presidency. He’s pretty much okay with the administration’s war on drugs, even though he says land grabbing is a more urgent problem, as if the two issues can’t be addressed simultaneously.

Guigayuma has positioned himself as an LGBTQ ally, speaking broadly about separation of church and state and the defense of the community’s human rights. He has not, however, gone into detail policy-wise. —Enzo Escober

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GUTOC, SAMIRA

(LP)

Representation is a key aspect to opposition candidate Samira Gutoc’s senate bid. If she wins, she will be the first Muslim senator the country has seen in 20 years.

A former journalist, Gutoc was the first female correspondent for Inquirer in Marawi, covering local politics.

After being appointed by Duterte to help draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, she resigned after the president “joked” that soldiers could rape women during their stay in Mindanao. During the outbreak of the Marawi siege, she became an evacuee leader.

She was first catapulted into public attention when she gave an emotional speech in front of Congress about the human rights abuses in Marawi. As someone who’s witnessed martial law’s effects in the city firsthand, she is highly critical of the government, pointing towards harsh living conditions and the slow rehabilitation of the area.

Gutoc’s priority legislation includes protecting the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially those affected by calamities. She’s also intent on preserving Lake Lanao, a national treasure with priceless resources.

Though scrolling through her gay lingo-fueled tweets (remember that jetski caption?) would give you the impression that Gutoc supports the LGBTQ community, that support isn’t quite as unequivocal as her social media presence might suggest. While she backs the SOGIE Bill, she hasn’t been as enthusiastic about marriage equality, as she is still a practicing Muslim: “Towards same-sex marriage, I cannot categorically state I support,” she said, “but I support equal opportunity for all, including LGBT.” —EE

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HILBAY, FLORIN

(AKSYON DEMOKRATIKO)

Florin Hilbay has the kind of success story many campaign strategists can only dream of. Born into poverty in Tondo, he studied hard, earning a series of scholarships that eventually led him to become a bar topnotcher and Yale law degree holder.

After making a career for himself in the academe, he entered government service. Hilbay’s stint as senior state solicitor saw him defend the RH Bill in front of a Supreme Court filled with prudes. It also saw him work on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which allowed the US military to build facilities on Philippine bases as a reaction to Chinese bullying. Depending on how skeptical you are of American kindness however, you may feel a bit iffy about the deal.

President Benigno Aquino III appointed the famously bald-headed lawyer as solicitor general when he was just 40-years-old, making him the youngest person to hold the position in Philippine history. His crowning moment came when he helped win a case against China in the Hague, affirming our claim on the West Philippine Sea.

Given that track record, it’s no surprise that he’s critical of how the Duterte administration has courted China. He’s also been vocal against the extension of martial law in Marawi, the TRAIN Law, and the reinstatement of the death penalty.

In another of Otso Diretso’s social media gimmicks, Hilbay dared Bong Go to prove he had no dragon tattoo by taking his shirt off on camera. Only in the Philippines, guys! —EE

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JANGAO JR., LEBORIO “BFG ABRAHAM”

(IND)

This year’s senatorial race interestingly includes the founder of a military organization called Guardians Brotherhood Organization,  formerly known as the Diablo Squad. If that sounds like a cult to you, don’t worry; it’s not. Abraham Jangao is the “Grand Master Founder God Father” of a fraternity of soldiers founded during Fidel Ramos’ time which reached at most 30,000 members.

The retired policeman hasn’t really forwarded any concrete plans, much less presented a platform for his senate bid. His Facebook page, whose most recent post is that of a tacky pubmat with a blurred picture of Jangao, only says that he wants to “be the voice of the Brotherhood.” With less than a month until election day, it seems that’s about as specific as he’s going to get. At least he didn’t put “Grand Master Founder God Father of the Diablo” in his tagline. —Cristina Chi

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JAVELLANA, RJ

(KDP)

RJ Javellana is concerned with lowering the prices of basic goods and creating more jobs for the youth. People may better recognize him as the president of the civil society group United Filipino Consumers & Commuters (UFCC) which opposed, in no sugar coated terms, the TRAIN law when it was first brought up in 2017.

The Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino candidate’s first plan of action upon entering the senate is to re-nationalize public utilities. Like his fellow labor leader Leody de Guzman, Javellana wants to reverse the privatization of health care.

Progressives will be unhappy to note, however, that Javellana supported Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when she ran for reelection as president alongside her vice presidential candidate Noli De Castro in 2004. Javellana was then spokesperson for Kilusan ng Mamamayan Para sa Matatag na Republika (KMMR), a coalition of 250 people’s and sectoral organizations which backed Arroyo’s presidential bid. —CC

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LAPID, LITO

(NPC)

Action star and now reelectionist Lito Lapid has no concrete plans in the senate except to continue doing his job. He has, however, promised to create pro-poor laws and help the poor gain access to education after experiencing “discrimination” from those who criticized his educational attainment.

Lapid turned down Otso Diretso’s challenge to a debate by asking them and his other rivals to “see if they can direct a movie” instead. The Ang Probinsyano star has consistently been in the top five of Pulse Asia senatorial surveys.

Lapid is also known as the son of a former labandera and (admittedly) rarely releases statements or opinions on issues. He supports Duterte’s priority bills such as the revival of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of minimum criminal responsibility. —CC

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MACALINTAL, ROMULO “MACAROMY”

(IND) – INDEPENDENT

Romy Macalintal calls himself “Mr. Senior Citizen,” which seems to align well with the veteran election lawyer’s campaign promises. His legislative agenda primarily involves broadening senior citizen benefits, be it by vowing to push for a 50% discount on their medicines, the establishment of senior citizen social centers for health, wellness, and recreational purposes, and senior citizen-specific discounts on key utility bills. He also proposes that voter’s education be made mandatory at the high school level.

Though he campaigns as a member of the anti-Duterte “Otso Diretso” bloc, however, he isn’t exactly what you’d call a through-and-through oppositionist. While he is known currently as the lawyer who helped Vice President Leni Robredo beat Bongbong Marcos’ electoral protest, his past claim to fame involves being a member of the GMA defense team at the height of the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal. He has also protested against the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill as a member of a hardline Catholic Church lobby group. —Jedd Ong

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MALLILLIN, EMILY

(KATIPUNAN)

Emily Mallillin is a self-professed “ina ng bayan,” who, if her Facebook posts are to be believed, thinks of a seat in the senate as a matter of divine right and providence.

She does outline a five-point legislative agenda focusing on: “edukasyon para sa kabataan,” “maayos na pamahalaan,” “ina ng bayan” (not joking here), “lulunasan ang kahirapan,” and “yaman ng bansa ay aalagaan”. Granted, the platform seems to have been crafted solely to spell out the name “EMILY”, but hey — that’s one more platform than what Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada have presented, and those two are senatorial front-runners.

She has also briefly advocated for agricultural sector reform in her aggressively capitalised Facebook captions, pushing for the establishment of centralized crop trading outposts for farmers (“Bagsakan Centers”) in hard-to-reach rural areas. Her campaign is additionally affiliated with the “Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi” alliance: a broad political coalition whose (seeming) singular objective is the passage of the Puno draft federal constitution. —JO

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MANGONDATU, FAISAL

(KATIPUNAN)

A businessman and medical technologist by trade, Faisal Mangondato styles himself broadly as a federalism advocate, much like his abovementioned party-mate. Their other legislative priorities however, do diverge quite a bit. Faisal’s core advocacies are much narrower, including the proper implementation of R.A. 9003, otherwise known as the “ecological solid waste management act,” and to fasttrack the actual rehabilitation of Marawi, among others.

And on that note, we highly recommend that you view this interview Faisal had with DZMM radio, if you have time to spare. The damage that has been done to this city is no joke, and Faisal’s testimony to that effect (especially his recounting of an alleged military-led robbery of his own house there) lends credence to that assertion. We know we turn our noses up at quite a number of these candidates’ doings aesthetic poster choices, and advocacies, but this just goes to show that most of them are citizens, as we are, demanding that government do its job. And their inactivity, as Faisal and other candidates point out, has some real messed up consequences. —JO

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MANGUDADATU, DONG

(PDP-LBN)

Dong Mangudadatu wants you to remember he is for P.E.A.C.E. — Prosperity, Education, Agriculture, Cultural Unity and Energy. His big goal in running for senator is to bring Muslims and Christians together, and he brings his experience as a former congressman who was Senior Vice Chair for Muslim Affairs.

You may remember their family as among those murdered in the Maguindanao massacre of 2009, during which Mangudadatu was then Mayor of Pandag.

Mangudadatu is currently running under Hugpong ng Pagbabago, and is backed by both the president and his daughter Sara. He is pro-Bangsamoro Basic Law, pro-death penalty, and against the anti-political dynasty bill (understandable, given that the clan still holds power from provincial to municipal level). —Julienne Joven

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MANICAD, JIGGY

(IND)

Jiggy Manicad could not have picked a more contentious time to be a journalist-turned-candidate. In the war between the government and the press, Manicad has chosen to side with his partymates in Hugpong ng Pagbabago and claim that press freedom is not under attack, leading his alma mater to denounce him. (Manicad once joked of being afraid he’d start speaking like a politician. That joke has not aged well.)

Among the things he promises to bring into the senate include promoting nationalism and culture, addressing oil price hikes through a buffer fund, and a reintegration program for returning OFWs. The political newbie also shares that he is bringing with him his experience as a journalist who saw issues on the ground. —JJ

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MARCOS, IMEE

(NP)

Daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Imee Marcos is set on reclaiming the Senate after her brother Bongbong leaves to focus on reclaiming the VP seat. The former Ilocos Norte governor’s campaign run has recently been riddled with attacks on her numerous fake diplomas, leading Sara Duterte to state that “honesty should not be an election issue.” Yikes. And who can forget that she and her three sons were listed in the Panama Papers, a worldwide controversy that “alluded to Panama as a haven for illicit proceeds of corruption or crime.”

But Marcos remains unfazed as she dances and entertains her way through the campaign trail (“Maglagay ng tunay na bakla sa Senado!” she asserts, pointing to herself). She promises to focus on the economy if elected, including VAT reforms, cheaper food, and a creative industry charter. 30 years after they were overthrown by People Power, will the Marcoses succeed this time in their reascent to Malacanang? —JJ

Check back next Sunday for the fourth and final batch of candidates.

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