Tolentino bids for Senate anew, sets aside protest vs De Lima

Pia Ranada
President Duterte's former political adviser stresses that while he filed a motion to suspend proceedings of his electoral protest against Senator Leila De Lima, he does not believe she won in 2016

2019 PLANS. Presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino speaks to media upon his arrival at Comelec office in Manila to file his certificate of candidacy for senator on October 17,2018. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Francis Tolentino filed his certificate of candidacy for senator, adding to the number of Malacañang officials who have now resigned to gun for an elective post.

Tolentino, President Rodrigo Duterte’s political adviser, filed his candidacy on Wednesday, October 17 at the Commission on Elections headquarters in Intramuros, Manila. 

He told reporters as he entered the building that he would push for environmental justice legislation if he wins a Senate seat.

“When there are big tragedies where people are involved, someone should be held accountable. Someone should be held accountable for landslides, for deforestation of our mountains that cause flooding,” he said in Filipino during an interview with reporters.

As Duterte’s political adviser, Tolentino was delegated the President’s point person for relief efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) in September, and for Mayon evacuees back in January.

He has also filed a motion to suspend proceedings of his electoral protest against Senator Leila de Lima. In the 2016 elections, De Lima won the 12th slot for senator, while Tolentino ranked 13th. He contested De Lima’s victory.

Kahit nag-file ako ng motion to suspend proceedings, hindi pa namin tinatanggap ‘yung pagkapanalo ni De Lima bilang number 12. Itong pag-file ko ngayon, para ang taong-bayan na ang magdesisyon ng electoral protest ko kasi ang tagal na sa Senate Electoral Tribunal,” Tolentino told reporters.

(Even if I filed a motion to suspend proceedings, we still don’t accept the victory of De Lima as number 12. My filing today is for the people to decide on my electoral protest, because it’s taking so long with the Senate Electoral Tribunal.)

Before being political adviser, Tolentino’s last position in government was Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman, from 2010 to 2015, under the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

In 2016, he ran for senator but lost. He was Tagaytay City mayor from 1995 to 2004. 

Duterte has publicly endorsed Tolentino for senator, saying on September 19, “You’d do well if you get him as one of the senators – mahusay magtrabaho, mabait na tao (an excellent worker, a good person).” –

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at