At last the newly elected senators were proclaimed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The top 12 consists of 7 old timers and 5 neophytes. Some veteran names are dropped off the list and replaced by celebrities or those who were may be perceived to be better performers in their respective posts during the past years. Among the 12, only 2 are women.
Let us get to know them by the order of votes:
First, Liberal Party (LP) stalwart, Mr. Franklin Drilon with more than 18 million votes. Born in Iloilo city, Mr. Drilon has served as a senator since 1995. He had served different committees and departments and he served as Senate President three times – 2000, 2001-2006 and 2013-2016.
Following closely behind the top spot is another LP bet, Mr. Joel Villanueva. Hailing from Bocuae, Bulacan Mr. Villanueva first served in congress and was the principal sponsor of the Anti-Red Tape act of 2007. He may be most relevant in this election for his campaign as TESDAman.
Outgoing president, Benigno Aquino III appointed him as the chief of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in 2010. Under his leadership, corrupt practices of the previous leadership were caught and several TESDA offices received an International for Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification.
Vicente Sotto III
Claiming third spot is veteran senator Mr. Vicente Sotto III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). He was first vice mayor of Quezon City before rising to the top spot in two senate elections. He is noted for his fight against illegal drugs early in his political career. In fact, Mr. Sotto received two international awards for his anti-drugs effort.
Next is returning Senator Mr. Panfio Lacson. The independent senator was first known for his successful career with the Philippine National Police before becoming senator in 2001. He was out of the limelight after his 2004 Presidential bid failed. The Cavite native filed 41 bills for public service, reproductive health, investments and defense capabilities.
Landing fifth on the list is another returning independent senator Mr. Richard Gordon. He is presently known as the Philippine Red Cross chair.
He was first mayor of Olongapo City before becoming Tourism secretary and creating the Wow Philippines theme. He was also chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). He was elected as senator in 2004 and headed the Senate blue Ribbon Committee at that time who led the investigations into the fertilizer fund scam and NBN-ZTE deal. He also failed to win the 2010 Presidential elections.
Juan Miguel Zubiri
Number six is clean energy champ and another independent senator Mr. Juan Miguel Zubiri. The senator started his political career as house representative of the third district of Bukidnon. He was elected in senate year 2007 and passed the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 and Biofuels Act of 2006 among others.
Joining the Magic 12, at number 7 is neophyte senator Mr. Manny Pacquiao from the United Nationalist Alliance. The champion world boxer first dipped his toes in politics as congressman of Sarangani province in Mindanao.
Re-electionist Mr. Francis Pangilinan returns to senate at number 8 in the recent polls. The LP bet was first and lawyer and a media personality who aimed to make the law more understandable for the public. Elected as senator in 2001 to 2003, he did not only gained the public trust but also his colleagues.
He made the most number of reports during the 12th congress, one-third of the total number of committee reports. He was appointed as the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization last May 2014 by the outgoing president.
Finally, after three tries Ms. Risa Hontiveros made it to top 9 of the senator list. A socialist, activist and journalist, she was first one of the nominees for the 2004 elections of the Akbayan Party-list. People first noticed her as one of those who strongly opposed former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the Hello Garci controversy.
She became a member of the house minority in the 14th Congress and successfully passed legislations such as Cheaper Medicines Law, Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms Law among others. She may be mostly remembered as one of those who prominently campaigned for the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, a law she co-authored. Last December 2014, she became a trustee of the PhilHealth board.
Claiming 10th spot is Valenzuela city’s very own, Mr Sherwin Gatchalian. He first served as the representative of Valenzuela in 2001-2004 then became the city mayor from 2004-2013.
He served another term as congressman before running for (and winning) senate position. The new senator from NPC campaigned as champion of students as his platform is about quality education and inclusive growth. His work in public service was awarded by outgoing president Aquino The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award in 2011.
Mr. Ralph Recto sits on number 11 with more than 14 million votes. Before being the Senate President Pro-Temporate he was first a member of the House of Representatives for the 4th District of Batangas.
He was elected as senator in 2001 but lost in 2007 because he became unpopular for being the author of the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) law. He was then appointed as the National Economic and Development Authority head in 2008. He was re-elected to senate in 2010. As a lawmaker, his core legislative agenda and advocacies are health, eduction, agriculture, roads, tourism and security.
Leila de Lima
Closing the top 12 is Ms. Leila de Lima.
A lawyer by profession, she was appointed by former president Arroyo as the Philippine Commission on Human Rights chair. She was then appointed as Department of Justice secretary by outgoing president Aquino.
Hopefully our newly elected senators will create and amend laws to benefit the Filipino people best.
Special thanks to COMELEC for the main image.