The daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Imee Marcos from Nacionalista Party, came in third with 2,894 votes.
At least nine out of 12 senatorial candidates endorsed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made it to the top 12 of the mid-term elections – deemed as a referendum on his administration – based on partial and unofficial election returns tabulated by Khaleej Times on Monday (May 13).
The first seven places were swept by Duterte nominees. Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa topped the list with 3,220 votes and was closely followed by his close aide, former special assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go with 3,065 votes.
The daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Imee Marcos from Nacionalista Party, came in third with 2,894 votes. Back in 2016, Duterte sparked public outrage when he ordered a hero’s burial for the former strongman at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).
Pia Cayetano, sister of Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 presidential elections, came in fourth place at the Dubai polls with 2,824 votes; followed with 2,580 votes by re-electionist Cynthia Villar, mother of Duterte’s secretary for Public Works and Highways.
Former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino and pro-Duterte senator Sonny Angara came in sixth and seventh places with 2,415 and 1,988 votes, respectively.
Former presidential aspirant and independent candidate Grace Poe, endorsed by the Catholic Church and progressive bloc Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Makabayan), broke the streak of Duterte candidates at eighth place with 1,696 votes.
Two more Duterte candidates, re-electionists Koko Pimentel and JV Ejercito (son of ousted president Joseph Estrada) made it the Magic 12 at ninth and 11th places with 1,475 and 978 votes respectively.
Returning senatorial aspirant Lito Lapid came at 10th place with 1,122 votes while re-electionist Nancy Binay, daughter of former vice-president Jejomar Binay, who lost to Duterte in the national elections, grabbed the 12th spot with 854 votes.
Opposition candidates Bam Aquino, Mar Roxas and Samira Gutoc garnered 602, 469 and 400 votes, respectively while independent candidate Neri Colmenares (Makabayan) got 389 votes based on six election returns.
Filipino expats in Dubai said Duterte has remained popular despite the controversial policies he launched in the past three years, including his bloody campaign against illegal drugs that has been denounced by human rights advocates globally.
Duterte supporter Conrado Quizon told Khaleej Times that the results “means a vote of confidence for his administration”.
But Dubai resident AG Teodoro didn’t share the same view. She said: “My senatorial bets are all from the opposition as these candidates have authentic and excellent credentials, and good track record in public service, plus respectable moral character.
“Honesty, decency and integrity do not seem to matter these days but guess what – they should, especially honesty. We need checks and balances when it comes to legislation and need officials who will uphold and fight for the Philippine territorial rights,” she underlined.
Kristie Templa-Gonzales, a supporter of Makabayan, added: “Candidates should focus on the rights and welfare of the Filipino people like raising the wages of workers back home, removal of the excise tax, a ban on contractualisation and the abolition of the value-added tax on electricity and water and more importantly, protection for overseas Filipino workers.