May 15, 2019
Administration-backed candidates are poised to run away with the May 13 Senate polls, holding on to nine out of the 12 seats up for grabs, based on an unofficial Commission on Elections (Comelec) count.
Malacañang attributed the result to President Rodrigo Duterte’s “magic.” Most of the opposition Otso Diretso slate conceded defeat, with the exception of a couple of bets, who still had a slim chance of joining the “Magic 12.”
As of 5:53 p.m., reelectionist senator Cynthia Villar extended her lead with 24,509,114 votes, followed by fellow reelectionist Mary Grace Poe (21,426,018) and former presidential aide Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (19,874,191).
Completing the top 6, who will get six-year terms were former senator Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano with 19,156,910 votes, former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa with 18,263,881, and reelectionist Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara with 17,620,407.
The remaining six slots, which carry three-year terms, were occupied by actor and former senator Manuel Mercado “Lito” Lapid (16,476,675), Ilocos Norte governor María Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos (15,376,842), former Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino (14,957,833 votes), former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. (14,167,528), and reelectionist Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd (14,156,067) and Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay (14,130,611).
Most of those in the top 12, with the exception of Poe, Lapid and Binay, are part of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago slate endorsed by the Duterte administration.
Trailing them were reelectionist Senators Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito (13,882,914) and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino 4th (13,772,052), and former senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada (11,031,009) and Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd (9,582,027).
Opposition bets concede
Otso Diretso candidates Romulo “Romy” Macalintal, Samira Gutoc, Florin Hilbay, Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada, Gary Alejano and Manuel “Chel” Diokno — who were ranked below 20th as of noon — separately conceded on Tuesday and said they had fought a good fight.
“Alam naman po naming na pumasok kami sa labang ito na walang kasiguraduhang mananalo. Lahat kami ay babangga sa isang malaking pader pero maliwanag po na may kailangang tumayo at lumaban (We joined a fight where there was no assurance of winning. We would be going up against a huge wall but it was clear that we had to stand and fight),” Tañada told reporters in a news briefing.
Alejano, in a statement, said, “Let us regroup, reassess and plan because our love for the country does not depend and end in elections.”
Diokno tweeted: “Muli, sa lahat ng kapwa ko Pilipino, salamat sa inyo (Again, to all my fellow Filipinos, thank you).”
No statements were issued by Aquino and Roxas. Otso Diretso campaign manager Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said they were still hoping for a miracle win.
“There’s still 7 percent of the remaining votes, equivalent to about 3 million votes that were not yet included in the unofficial tally. We will wait for the results and monitor,” he said.
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo said the fight was not over.
“May laban pa tayong hinaharap. Hindi pa tapos ang bilangan at kailangan pang bantayan… Hanggang sa huli, sama-sama tayo sa labang ito (We still have a battle ahead. The canvassing of votes is not yet finished and we have to be watchful … Up to the end, let us face this race as one.)”
In Malacañang, spokesman Savador Panelo said the unofficial count was pointing to “an unstoppable trend towards a resounding victory of the Administration’s favored [Senate] candidates.”
“Undoubtedly, the Duterte magic spelled the difference. The overwhelming majority of the electorate have responded to the call of the President to support those whom he said would help pass the laws supportive of his goal to uplift the masses of our people and give them comfortable lives they richly deserve,” he told reporters.
“The victory of the Administration’s candidates and the shutout of the Otso Diretso candidates send a strong message that our people yearn for stability and continuity of the genuine reforms that this Administration started,” Panelo continued.
Amid fears of a rubberstamp Congress, the Palace spokesman said voters “yearn for a constructive — not obstructionist — Senate which will help in crafting the President’s legislative agenda.”
Panelo gave assurances that the President would respect his allies’ independence when they assume their posts in the 18th Congress.
“[The administration bets’ win] not really [affect the check and balances in government] because if you will notice, the history of the Senate shows members of that chamber [have been] independent ever since. No Senate has ever been under any president. They always rise above parties and considerations, when issues involve national interest, national security and the interest of the Filipino people,” he said.
With a reports from ARIC JOHN SY CUA, GLEE JALEA and RALPH U. VILLANUEVA
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