2019 Senate Candidate Profiles: Batch Four

2019 Senate Candidate Profiles: Batch Four

We’re in the endgame now.

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


We dedicated this month to giving you guys a cohesive, easy to understand, and hopefully useful breakdown of the candidates we’ll soon be responsible for voting into the senate. This is part four, the final wave, with seventeen candidates. In case you missed the other parts, here are the pieces for batch one, batch two, and batch three.

By the time this article comes out, you’ll have two weeks to study up on an extremely mixed bag of both champions of justice and vulgar deplorables. Think critically, practice discernment, give a crap about history and human rights, and cast your vote on May 13.




Atty. Sonny Matula realized he wanted to fight for the country’s workers after seeing the human rights violations during the country’s martial law period. A labor law expert and member of the Labor Win alliance, he is currently the president of the Federation of Free Workers where he is fighting to pass the “End Endo” bill, among others. Matula believes it’s time for the labor sector to break the glass ceiling in the senate and forward specific workers’ agendas, among them the establishment of a national minimum wage and putting an end to contractualization.

Aside from his goal of representing workers in the senate, he also wants to forward agricultural independence and government control of land conversion.

Despite his experience of witnessing the horrors of martial law, Matula supports the current martial law in Mindanao, saying that ”people’s human rights are protected even when placed under military rule.” The administration’s anti-drug operations, for Matula, remains acceptable as long as the innocent aren’t killed. He opposes the reinstatement of the death penalty because he believes that criminals can still be reformed. —Cristina Chi




Luther Meniano is eyeing a seat in the senate primarily with his threefold advocacy, shortened into the acronym LOT: his law of tranquility, transparency, and territory. That sounds like a mouthful of Ts, but this labor candidate is serious in solving poverty and ending contractualization.

His answers in debates so far read like classroom lectures. Breaking the mold of the traditional politician’s generalized answers, he tends to explain the small details from the difference between the types of jobs that have contractualization to the parts of the train in the MRT and LRT that need fixing.

Compared to his slatemates in the Labor Win alliance, Meniano doesn’t have much work experience in the labor sector to boast of. However, he has lain down a specific plan to end corruption in the country, which is to amend the definition of plunder and imprison public officials found guilty of stealing P5 million worth of ill-gotten wealth.

Meniano supports the government’s war on drugs, but he says that police need to investigate suspects first before filing charges against them. He is against the killings. —CC




Atty. Allan Montaño’s two decades of serving in the labor movement certainly earns him his position in this election’s Labor Win alliance. Alongside other labor leaders (workers of the world, unite!), he aims to create more employment and put an end to contractualization.

It has been a long way for Montaño who was born to a family of landless farmers in South Cotabato. His senate bid comes with pushing for a magna carta for tricycle drivers and strengthening the National Food Authority “to set the buying price” of crops come harvest season.

The labor leader supports the administration’s charter change and shift to a new type of government, saying that his thesis in college was on federalism.

The pro-bono lawyer is running for the second time since his loss in the 2016 senatorial elections which he blamed on people’s confusion over him and another candidate who shared his surname.  He’s the only Montaño to gun for a senate seat this year, though, so we guess this time it’s fair game. —CC




Atty. Joan Nalliw’s campaign platform rests on 5 Ks: Katutubo, Kabataan, Kalikasan, Kultura, and Kapatiran. The Ifugao lawyer and first-time candidate works pro bono for her fellow indigenous people. She’s especially focused on preserving indigenous cultures and regulating the development projects that often threaten ancestral lands.

She’s also 37 years old, making her one of the youngest hopefuls in this race. As a youth advocate, she’s against lowering the age of criminal liability, and wants to represent the younger generation in a very senior Upper House.

Should she win, the first things she’d focus on would be to implement the Puno federal draft and back the Freedom of Information Order, a bill which would make every government transaction transparent to the public. —Enzo Escober




That’s right. Willie Ong, of Salamat Dok fame, is running for senate. With a whopping nine million Facebook likes and one million YouTube subscribers, this guy has a bigger online base than any of his competitors. The former DOH consultant has done it by giving free medical advice on social media, from how to reduce cholesterol to how to drink water the correct way (you’ve been doing it wrong this whole time, guys).

Unsurprisingly, his initiative is to work on the Universal Health Care Law, adding provisions for free check-ups for the poor. He’s also for the TRAIN Law: all the more to fund Duterte’s Build, Build, Build campaign, he says.

Above all, Doc Willie doesn’t want to pressure you to support him. “Don’t vote for me. I never ask anyone to vote for me,” he says. “Just vote for someone who you think truly loves you.” So… make good choices, people. —EE




Few names speak “veteran senator” like that of Serge Osmeña III’s. He’s been a senator from 1995 to 2007, and then for another six years from 2010 until he surprisingly lost in the 2016 elections. Osmeña is the grandson of former President Sergio Osmeña, and hails from the political dynasty of Cebu.

The independent candidate has been known to meticulously watch over the budget. He supports the anti-APECO movement, good governance, and the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility. Osmeña also holds several business interests, given his family’s ties.

His priority will be to continue pushing for pending bills like the Land Use Code and creating a P100 billion trust fund for coconut planters. —Julienne Joven

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Dado Padilla promises to end corruption in the senate, as he vies to be your “Kan-DADO sa Senado.” This lawyer of 30 years was the president of the Nueva Ecija chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and was former Deputy Director of TESDA, where he witnessed corruption and ghost schools.

Padilla was also one of the founders of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee, which meant that as early as 2014, he was one of the organizers who made sure Duterte would win. Sadly, he says that the president never endorsed him back.

If he becomes senator, Padilla promises to improve tourism, push for a comprehensive agro-industrial countryside, and create a township program for urban poor. —JJ




Another re-electionist seeking your vote is Koko Pimentel. He is the current president of PDP-LABAN, and was Duterte’s senate president for two years until his fellow senators voted him out in favor of Sotto. No hard feelings, he says.

Pimentel is the son of former Senate President Nene Pimentel. Together, the father-son tandem have been staunch advocates of federalism and the Local Government Code, with the father being a prime proponent of these bills even before this admin.

It comes as no surprise then that Pimentel promises to forward the two advocacies, in order to cement the Pimentel legacy. He also wants to end contractualization and counter inflation (but is pro-TRAIN). —JJ




It seems that Grace Poe has it the easiest this election season, as she continues to occupy the top spot on surveys. After all, the incumbent senator was one of the contenders for the presidency back in 2016, and amassed a huge following for herself with her “Gobyernong may Puso” platform.

Even during her first dip into the political landscape back in 2013, Poe also emerged top one among the senatorial candidates then. Many would attribute her fame to her father, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., whose supporters claim was robbed of the presidency in 2004.

Poe is taking all the learnings from her previous bids and promises to pursue Freedom of Information, increase investments in 4Ps, education, and food; and disburse coco levy funds to farmers. She implores the public to vote for an independent like her, to ensure that the senate is balanced and well-represented. —JJ




Bong Revilla is an action star-turned-politician who recently escaped plunder charges in connection to the pork barrel scam (just in time for his senate bid). Since his surprise acquittal last December, the reelectionist has been punching his way easily through survey rankings, landing in the Magic 12 despite being in jail for four years.

Unfazed by his pork-tainted history, Revilla has since been in a celebratory mood in Hugpong ng Pagbabago campaign sorties and has “forgiven his political foes” despite being asked by the Ombudsman to return P124.5M in stolen funds.

Revilla, who had only just received a second chance at a free life, wants to bring back the death penalty particularly for “politicians found guilty of plunder.” He doesn’t support lowering the minimum age of criminal liability, saying that his experience behind bars was traumatic and should not be experienced by children.

The actor-turned-lawmaker is now looking to woo the labor sector with a law that would allow for paid leave in case family members get sick. —CC




Atty. Dan Roleda is an ex-Manila city councilor, ex-Arroyo administration presidential assistant, and current Binay family friend. Politically, the man cut his teeth serving as the deputy campaign manager of former Vice President Jejomar Binay, and the deputy secretary general of the party that fielded him as presidential standard bearer in 2016.

The elder Binay, need we remind you, made his name both with an unlikely ascension to the Vice Presidency in 2010, and due to the numerous graft, wealth misdeclaration, and corruption charges brought against him and his family for improper use of public funds. Yes, those are 12 distinct articles and cases.

Anyway, corruption rants aside, a cursory search of the phrase “Dan Roleda platform” don’t yield any real results. His Facebook page claims however, that his senatorial campaign revolves primarily around familial ties, with his sole concrete legislative proposal being the creation of a “Magna Carta for the Filipino Family.” —Jedd Ong




Incredulously enough, Mar Roxas’s range of governance and leadership experience can’t teach him to direct traffic. It’s hard to believe that the man was previously more known for his policymaking ambition in economics, and public administration reform (e.g. “tamang timbang, tamang presyo” pricing system reform initiative as DTI secretary, passage of RA 7880, which pushed for equitable nationwide reallocation of the educational budget), and his meme-y blunders given (personal favorites: basketball Mar, kargador Mar, pedicab driver Mar).

His current policy platforms try to trace back his “palengke” economist roots, with a threefold focus on job creation, wage corrections, and proper price monitoring. Some key bills he aims to prioritize if elected include acts to mandate internet speed upgrades, and repeal key excise taxes in the TRAIN law.

That being said, Mar isn’t exactly devoid of controversy. He’s been accused of credit-grabbing authorship of the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008, denies all responsibility and wrongdoing for the events leading up to the Mamasapano massacre even if he was acting DILG chief then, has a track record of flip-flopping on key LGBT rights issues, and has been accused of making Islamophobic remarks. I say bring back the memes. —JO




Nur-Ana “Lady Ann” Sahidulla is very much a veteran in the country’s political scene. The Indanan, Sulu resident served as mayor of the municipality of Banguingui, Sulu from 1998-2004, Vice Governor of Sulu from 2004-2010, and most recently, as a Sulu congresswoman from 2010-2013. She’s also currently the chairwoman of the Philippine Red Cross chapter in Sulu.

Her legislative advocacies are threefold: peace and unification of Muslims and non-Muslims, marine economy protection, and wage increases for laborers. She has also gone on record stating a desire to drive down high electricity prices.

Advocacies and positions held aside, however, the former congresswoman has most recently made headlines for pleading guilty to Ombudsman charges saying that she failed to disclose key assets in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). In December 2018, she denied the charges on a radio program, saying that she was “politicized”.

Interestingly, she has been sentenced to at least one year in prison as a result of such a charge, carried out last February. No word has yet been released regarding whether or not she has been arrested and imprisoned. She has, however, most recently appeared in a GMA TV video feature, aired just last March 28. JO




Erin Tañada carries with him a weighty family legacy. His grandfather former Senator Lorenzo Tañada made his mark in the Senate as a prominent labor rights advocate, and staunch Marcos oppositionist. His father, former senator Wigberto Tañada is perhaps most known for his membership in the “Magnificent 12” — an internal Senate voting bloc that fought against the extension of US military base land leases in Subic.

This is not to say however that Erin is without his own accomplishments. Some of the key laws the former Quezon City congressman has helped author or usher in include: the anti-enforced disappearances law,  the People’s Survival Fund Act (an act establishing a public fund for climate change), and the Renewable Energy Law. He also served as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives from 2004 to 2013.

And while the veteran ex-congressman cut his teeth in human and environmental rights legislation, his current platform nods more towards labor rights protection. The three main legislative priorities he aims to push are: a more dynamic, and social mobility-geared education sector, more equitable wages for farmers, and broader protections for worker’s rights and benefits. Good to note though that his platforms lack detail on his campaign website.

He’s also incumbent Senator Risa Hontiveros’ ex, for what that’s worth.—JO

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Francis Tolentino is an old, storied name: former chairman of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) who served during the Noynoy Aquino administration, man appointed in 2017 as Duterte’s political adviser, and a candidate who ran in the last senatorial race in 2016, but landed in 13th, losing to Leila de Lima by over a million votes. Tolentino could’ve very well kept up the electoral protest he filed against de Lima, but opted instead to voluntarily withdraw to focus on his campaign.

Not surprising that the man came so close to a seat in the senate Tolentino’s track record is nothing to scoff at. He served as nine years as the mayor of Tagaytay, and while his attempts to solve EDSA traffic haven’t exactly been successful, to his credit he did launch the first Metro Manila Integrated Bus Terminal in 2013, and the Pasig River Ferry System in 2014.

As Duterte’s political adviser though… oh boy. He has defended the president’s penchant for vulgar remarks and rape jokes, and has stated that he doesn’t really have a problem with nationwide martial law. He is for the death penalty, for the drug war, and for lowering the age of criminal liability to 12 or 13, from the current 15. His attributes his pro-federalism stance to his experience is local governance and goal of empowering local governments. —Jam Pascual

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Butch Valdes is a hardcore supporter of Rodrigo Duterte. He founded the Citizen National Guard, an advocacy group specifically made to protect the president from enemies of the state. And to them CNG, the umbrella term “enemies of the state” lumps together ISIS-inspired terrorists, communists, the Liberal Party, and regular ol’ dissenters. This generalization probably also explains why Valdes actually takes the Duterte oust matrix seriously. Valdes also formed the Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino, a party founded by President Duterte and which counts  Larry Gadon as a member.

It would be a mistake though to assume Valdes is your average DDS fanboy candidate. For one thing, he’s surprisingly anti-death penalty. His legislative platform also covers lowering the cost of electricity, claiming that the Philippines has the highest electricity rates in the world. (Quick fact check: this report says we had the highest rates in Southeast Asia in 2016, and this report from 2018 says we have the third highest rates in all of Asia, which is, to be fair, still ridiculously high. Highest in the world, though? That’s an unsupported claim.) He also aims to tackle electoral fraud.

His stance of the Dengvaxia issue, though? That’s a real can of worms er, mosquitoes. Valdes wants former president Noynoy Aquino held accountable for the approval and distribution of the dengvaxia vaccine, which Valdes claims was not fully tested. It should be noted though that one of the members of KDP is the Persida Acosta who, along with the Public Attorney’s Office, has been held largely responsible for the dengvaxia scare, making unsupported claims that put the country’s immunization programs at risk, and eroded public trust in health workers. The company Valdes keeps says a lot about him. —JP




Measuring a public servant’s ability to lead means evaluating how they make use of power so let’s start there Cynthia Villar is powerful. Her husband is former Senate President and billionaire businessman Manny Villar; her son Paolo is the CEO of VistaLand; her son Mark is the Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways; her daughter Camille is the Executive Vice President of Starmall and president of All Home. And while Villar boasts an eclectic public service CV former senator during Benigno Aquino III’s time and former Chair of the Senate Agrarian Reform Committee are just a few titles attached to her name her political moves are definitely influenced by the businesses she’s connected to.

For example, the advocacy group Campaign for Land Use Policy NOW (CLUP NOW) has accused Villar of using her agrarian positions to benefit VistaLand. (Villar has dismissed these accusations.) There’s also the issue of Villar favoring a 60-40 profit share with China regarding exploration of resources in the South Chi sorry, West Philippine Sea, which sort of flies in the face of those invested in preserving the Philippines’ sovereignty. Still, Villar has done a lot in her various positions, like pushing for a P10 billion subsidy for rice farmers, and supporting rice farm mechanization. Her legislative platform which focuses on farmers and fisherfolk indicates that she plans to stay the course, if elected once again into the senate.

The Duterte-endorsed candidate stands with the president with a lot of key issues. She is pro-death penalty and in favor of lowering the age of criminal liability to 13. She’s also pretty indifferent about Ferdinand Marcos’s burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. And while she has made efforts to provide drug users with access to rehabilitation, she has no problem with the deaths that have taken place under the president’s drug war. —JP

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