4 things you need to know about the 2019 Senate hopefuls

MANILA, Philippines – For millions of Filipinos, the fast-approaching 2019 midterm elections present the chance to elect new lawmakers. For more than a hundred of them, however, it’s also an opportunity to be voted to office themselves.

When the Commission on Elections (Comelec) received certificates of candidacy (COC) from October 11 to17, 152 individuals filed their applications to run for the 12 available Senate seats.

This is how they look like: 

 

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Among those who filed their COCs for senator, 130 out of 152 were male, comprising about 86% of the roster. Only 22 individuals or about 14% were female.

In past elections, men also comprised majority of those seeking public office. (READ: [OPINION] Much has to be done to have more elected women)

In the 2016 elections, for instance, 142 of the 172 individuals who were senatorial aspirants were men. Prior to that, Comelec records also showed that in the 6 election years – from 1998 to 2013 – there were more men than women who participated and won the elections. (IN NUMBERS: Women in PH politics)

But does this mean women have no shot at winning? Not quite, if survey results are to be believed.

TOP 5. Women dominate the top 5 of the latest Pulse Asia survey on the 2019 senatorial race. File photos by Mark Cristino (Poe), Senate PRIB (Villar), Cayetano (Rappler), Office of Senator Nancy Binay, and Manman Dejeto (Carpio),

TOP 5. Women dominate the top 5 of the latest Pulse Asia survey on the 2019 senatorial race.

File photos by Mark Cristino (Poe), Senate PRIB (Villar), Cayetano (Rappler), Office of Senator Nancy Binay, and Manman Dejeto (Carpio),

Pulse Asia’s September 2018 Ulat ng Bayan survey on the 2019 senatorial elections showed that while women may be outnumbered by men, the top 5 seats in the Senate would still be won by women were elections held early in October.

Such was also the case for previous rounds of the survey conducted by Pulse Asia since the beginning of the year, as reelectionist senators Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, and Nancy Binay, and Taguig City Representative Pia Cayetano were mainstays in the “Magic 12” or winners’ circle.

 

The 1987 Constitution says natural born citizens of the Philippines may run for senator if they are at least 35 years old by voting day. Data showed that over a third of candidates were already well above the minimum age.

Of the 152 people who filed, 53 were senior citizens, while about 95 of them were 35 to 59 years old. The ages of 4 senate bets were not availble. 

The oldest of the candidates is former Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile, who decided to run for public office again at the age of 94.

Enrile has been a public figure for 4 decades. He was defense minister of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and first became senator in 1987.

“Who knows? I might outlive the others who are in the Senate today. I’m not saying that I’m immortal, but only God knows,” he said, telling reporters he hoped he could reach 110.

Data also showed that majority of those who filed were married. Of the 152 senate hopefuls, 98 said they were married, 10 widowed, 39 single, while 5 did not indicate their civil status. 

 

Twenty-nine candidates said they had worked for the government before filing their COC. (READ: 13 Senate campaign virgins spice up 2019 elections)

Previous experience included those who were former senators, congressmen, Cabinet secretaries, political advisers, or local officials. 

They are the following:

Previously holding public office makes for the top “profession” of COC filers for senator.

Among them are 7 reelctionist senators, current and former members of the House of Representatives, and former Cabinet secretaries and heads of government agencies, or members of government bodies like the Bangsamoro Transition Commission or the Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution. (READ: Where do 2019 senatorial bets stand on key national issues?)

Apart from serving as public officials, the following top 5 profession among those who filed were:

 

While there may be strength in numbers and political parties, most of those who are running for senator filed as independents. Seventy-nine out of 152 people said they were not nominated by any group and will be aiming for a Senate seat on their own.

In contrast, 73 other candidates said they were running as part of a political party. For the 2019 midterm elections, a total of 22 parties and organizations nominated bets for the senatorial race: 

Notable independent candidates so far include reelectionist senator Grace Poe and former senator Serge Osmeña.

Other independents include the “colourful” bets, some of whom claim to be kings and princesses or the ex-husband of Kris Aquino and ex-boyfriend of Mocha Uson.

'COLORFUL BETS.' The Comelec urged the public to give 'colorful' hopefuls a chance to defend their bids for public office.

'COLORFUL BETS.' The Comelec urged the public to give 'colorful' hopefuls a chance to defend their bids for public office.

At times, independent bets are also private citizens who run for public office in an attempt to bring their ideas on how to improve public services to the table. (READ: Seniors bid for Senate seats to address environmental, transport problems)

Though many of these aspirants may not even see their names on the ballot – the Comelec has started accepting petitions for cancellation of COCs – the poll body urges the public to give nominees a chance to defend their bids for public office. (READ: Why Comelec entertains 'habitual' nuisance bets)

Aspiring for public office is, after all, a political right. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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