The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday proclaimed the 12 winners of last week’s senatorial race, with most of them vowing support for president-elect Rodrigo Duterte despite their diverse political parties.
Three of those proclaimed are incumbent senators, four had previously served as senators, two are former members of the House of Representatives, two former Cabinet members, and one, a former party-list representative.
Six of the new lawmakers belong to the Liberal Party (LP) — Senate President Franklin Drilon, former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros, comebacking Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francisco Pangilinan and Ralph Recto, former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Joel Villanueva and former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
The others were Sen. Vicente Sotto, former senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Richard “Dick” Gordon, Sarangani Rep. Manuel Pacquiao (United Nationalist Alliance) and Valenzuela City Rep. Win Gatchalian (Nationalist Peoples Coalition). Zubiri and Gordon ran as independents.
Sotto and Lacson did not attend the proclamation.
Drilon topped the senatorial race, getting 18,607,391 votes; followed by Villanueva, 18,459,222; Sotto, 17,200,371; Lacson, 16,926,152; Gordon, 16,719,322; Zubiri, 16,119,165; Pacquiao, 16,050,546; Pangilinan, 15,955,949; Hontiveros, 15,915,213;Gatchalian, 14,953,768; Recto,14,271,868 and De Lima, 14,144,070.
On the 13th spot was former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino.
Tolentino asked the Supreme Court to stop the proclamation of the last three winning senators but the High Court did not act on his petition.
The 12 senators-elect will serve for six years, starting at noon of June 30 until noon of June 30, 2022.
Drilon said that the Senate will support Duterte but at the same time maintain its independence.
“We will support the legislative agenda of the incoming president. He has the mandate of our people and this mandate carried with it his legislative agenda but we will always maintain the independence of the Senate,” Drilon stressed.
Asked on Duterte’s earlier threat that he would close Congress, Drilon said that it was nothing but “rhetoric”, stressing that as a former fiscal, the Davao mayor knows his law.
Drilon however refused to comment on the impending realignment of forces in Congress, saying that at this stage, their focus is on the forthcoming national canvassing of votes for president and vice president.
“We have not talked anything about coalescing with [the]PDP [-Laban], but the caucus about the proclamation of president and vice president because it is Congress which has the mandate to proclaim as the National Board of Canvassers [for president and vice president],” he added. “We are making sure that the proclamation will go smoothly.”
Recto also said he is willing to support Duterte.
“That is what the people are expecting, they wanted president-elect Duterte to be successful. If I can be of help, why not,” Recto added.
De Lima, likewise, vowed to support all of Duterte’s legislative agenda, except for those that would not be in accordance with her advocacies.
“Yes, I’m willing to support his program for as long as it does not run counter to my advocacies, like on human rights,” she said.
Villanueva expressed the same sentiment.
“The people have spoken on the victory of Duterte. The people want 100 percent support.
We wore different colors during the past elections but at the end of the day we will all be wearing the same color as proof of our love as Filipinos for our country,” he said.
Villanueva, who is also an evangelist, said he supports the return of death penalty, which Duterte strongly advocates.
“Believe it or not I am for death penalty especially for heinous crimes, like rape and kidnapping. But I also have my reservations,” he added.
Villanueva said that the new administration must first strengthen the country’s justice system before capital punishment is restored.
But he noted that the Senate has an oversight function, and as a senator, it would be his duty to check what the Administration is doing to ensure that the laws are being implemented properly by the executive branch.
Villanueva said he will share with the coming administration his expertise on job creation, which, he stressed, is vital in ensuring a brighter future for Filipinos.
Zubiri, who also came from Mindanao, assured the incoming President of his full support.
“We can’t compromise, we must make a difference even in the Senate. That’s what the people want, which is why they voted for Duterte,” Zubiri said.
“I am 100 percent for Duterte. Pesident Rody is the first President to come from our region, he has my full 100 percent support as a lawmaker from Mindanao. We should help him,” he added.
Gordon also assured Duterte of his support.
“I will support President Rodrigo Duterte on his initiatives, particularly on education, trade, economic development, peace and order, among others. I trust that being a lawyer, he will uphold justice and peace and order,” he added.
Gordon said his first agenda will be to investigate the change made in the hash code for the transparency server of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) Center.
“The alteration per se doesn’t seem to be a bad deal, but the timing is a very bad deal. Especially that alteration, apparently, I don’t know whether it is coincidence or deliberate, it resulted in a sudden rush of votes for the other candidates. So [given]that, we should investigate,” Gordon said.