Palace aides quit, reelectionist joins from jail as 176 vie for Senate seats
MANILA, Philippines — Cabinet members, reelectionists, and former senators on Friday rounded up the 176 individuals running for the 12 Senate seats up for grabs in next year’s elections.
Information and Communications Secretary and former Sen. Gregorio Honasan and chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to seek a Senate seat. They are now considered resigned from their respective posts.
Also automatically resigned are Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Chair Greco Belgica, who will also run for senator, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson, who is a party-list group nominee.
Two other officials of President Duterte who are considered resigned are Foreign Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, who is running for president as an independent candidate, and Mindanao Development Authority Chair Manuel Piñol, who is running for senator on the slate of presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson. Abella is a former presidential spokesperson and Piñol a former agriculture secretary.
Mark Villar, newly resigned public works secretary, earlier filed his COC to run for senator.
Reelection in detention
Sen. Leila de Lima, detained since 2017 on drug charges lodged on the strength of testimony from convicted drug lords, will seek reelection under the Liberal Party (LP). She filed her COC through a representative.
“I leave it to the people to decide if they will again accept my offer to serve the country amid our sacrifices brought about by the lies of Duterte,” De Lima said in a statement.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian will also seek reelection under the Nationalist People’s Coalition. He said he would have wanted to run as Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s running mate had she decided to seek the presidency.
Sen. Richard Gordon filed his COC as a reelectionist through a representative, saying he was taking “extra precaution” for his wife who is immunocompromised. Former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV will run this time under the LP, on the senatorial slate of Vice President Leni Robredo who is running for president as an independent.
Trillanes was with the Nacionalista Party when he made an unsuccessful bid for the vice presidency in 2016.
Broadcaster Noli de Castro Jr., who rejoined ABS-CBN as news anchor in 2010, when his term as vice president ended, will run for the Senate again in the slate of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.
De Castro hedged questions on whether he would run as an opposition candidate and on his views on the Duterte administration.
He said he would want to restore ABS-CBN’s franchise which the House of Representatives voted not to renew last year. The network angered Mr. Duterte during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Rodante, Robin, and Rey
The other administration senatorial candidates are One Sagip party list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, actor Robin Padilla and broadcaster Rey Langit. A namesake of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III filed his COC for senator under the administration’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan. The aspirant listed his name as Silvestre Bello Jr.
The Comelec said 270 party-list groups submitted their certificates of nomination and acceptance.
The poll body still has to evaluate which of them will be allowed to seek at least a seat in the House.
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