Get to know candidates in #TheFilipinoVotes: Senatorial Forum Part 2


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The first of a series of senatorial fora in December featured eight aspirants who wish to take a seat in the Senate in the 2019 midterm elections.

CNN Philippines puts in the spotlight seven new bets in its second senatorial forum held on Sunday.

Rafael-Alunan.png Former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III.  


Raffy Alunan is a member of the Bagumbayan party. He served as former Secretary of Tourism under the late President Corazon Aquino. After that, he was appointed by former President Fidel Ramos as the new Interior chief from 1992 to 1996.

He ran in the 2016 elections for a Senate seat but lost.

Alunan is the lead convenor of the West Philippine Sea Coalition. The senatorial aspirant has refuted China's expansive claim over the South China Sea, but he expressed openness for joint exploration with China as long as the Philippines' sovereign rights are respected.

rep. colmenares.png Former Bayan Muna party-list representative Neri Colmenares. (FILE PHOTO)  


Former Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares is also vying for a Senate post for the second time. He is part of the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Makabayan) political party.

During his time in Congress from 2010 to 2016, he was able to author 117 bills and 103 resolutions. Among these are Republic Act 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act, and Republic Act 10653 which adjusts the 13th month pay and other benefits ceiling excluded from the computation of gross income for taxation purposes.

Colmenares is a staunch human rights defender.

erin-tanada_CNNPH.jpg Former Quezon 4th District Representative Erin Tañada.  


Erin Tañada was a former lawmaker from the 4th District of Quezon Province, serving for three terms.

Tañada authored 76 bills and 42 resolutions in his term as Quezon representative.

Some of the bills which Tañada authored and were signed into law include the Republic Act 9346 or An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines, Republic Act 10368, which created the Human Rights Victims' Claims Board for those who suffered under the dictatorship of former President Ferdinand Marcos, and Republic Act 10174, which establishes the People's Survival Fund to address the problem of climate change.

He is affiliated with the Liberal Party, as its vice president for external affairs.

samira-gutoc_CNNPH.jpg Samira Gutoc-Tomawis.  


Samira Gutoc was a member of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao's legislative assembly in 2012. This is her first foray into national politics.

The senatorial aspirant was a member of the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which helped create the Bangsamoro Organic Law. She was tasked to draft terms of the Bangsamoro autonomy, following the 2014 peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

But in May 2017, she resigned from the commission after President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial remarks about soldiers raping women and his martial law declaration in Mindanao, following the Marawi siege.

harry-roque-the-source-070318_CNNPH.jpg Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.  


Harry Roque has flip-flopped on his decision to run for a Senate seat. The President had discouraged him from eyeing a post in the upper chamber, but he decided to go against Duterte's advice, and filed for candidacy in October 2018 under the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago's political party, the People's Reform Party.

Roque was a former Kabayan Party-list Representative before Duterte took him in as presidential spokesperson in November 2017. During this time, Roque had defended Duterte's various controversial statements against human rights advocates.

Prior to this, Roque was a human rights advocate himself. He was among the counsel for the families of the victims of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, and was also the legal counsel for the family of slain transgender woman, Jennifer Laude, in a case against United States Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.

Roque has been admitted to practice before the International Criminal Court. During his stint as presidential spokesperson, Duterte announced that the Philippines would pull out from the international tribunal, citing its interference in the administration's drug war.

mar-roxas_CNNPH.jpg Former Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.  


Defeated 2016 presidential candidate Mar Roxas is making a Senate comeback.

He was heavily criticized during his time as secretary of Interior and Local Government for his supposed incompetence in post-Typhoon Yolanda relief efforts. He also faced plunder charges filed by the Duterte government's transportation officials over the anomalous ₱3.8 billion maintenance contract for the MRT.

Roxas, grandson of former President Manuel Roxas, was a senator from 2004 to 2010. He was also secretary of Trade and Industry from 2000 to 2003. He entered into politics after he replaced his late brother Gerardo Roxas as Capiz 1st District representative, and he was congressman of the district from 1993 to 2000.

Among his key legislations include Republic Act 9501 or the Magna Carta for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, and Republic Act 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code.

He ran alongside Vice President Leni Robredo during the 2016 polls under the Liberal Party.



Florin Hilbay was the country's Solicitor General from 2014 to 2016.  He helped argue for the government in the country's case in The Hague against China on their overlapping maritime claims  in the West Philippine Sea.

The UP law professor is an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration, especially on its policy of warming ties with China.

Hilbay has also defended in court two of Duterte's most outspoken critics in the Senate - Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV. This is his first time running for a national position under the Aksyon Demokratiko Party.

To get to know the candidates more and their stances on national issues, watch #TheFilipinoVotes: Senatorial Forum Part 2 at 5 p.m. only here on CNN Philippines.