No limits: ‘Senior’ government officials running in 2019

Alex Evangelista
No limits: ‘Senior’ government officials running in 2019

Despite years – or decades – spent working in the government, these political veterans are still running for office in the 2019 Philippine elections

MANILA, Philippines – For some political bets of the 2019 midterm elections, age is nothing but a number. Despite years of taking up various positions in the government, there is no stopping these officials from staying in public office for a longer time.

Here are the “senior citizen” government officials who are running in next year’s elections:

Senatorial bets

Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile

At 94, former Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile is still up and running for senator in the 2019 elections. He re-filed for candidacy on Wednesday, October 17, under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, replacing his initial submission as independent candidate (and businesswoman).

Enrile has been a public figure for 4 decades, serving as the defense minister of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. After Martial Law, he served as senator for many years, and became Senate President from 2008-2013. He eventually bid farewell to the chamber in 2016 after maximizing the Constitutional term limit of two consecutive terms for senators from 2004 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2016.

He was also elected congressman of the 1st district of Cagayan back in 1992.

Senator Cynthia Villar

Senator Cynthia Villar seeks another term in the chamber after filing her certificate of candidacy last Monday, October 15. The 68-year-old agriculture and food committee chair said that she would continue to focus on farmers’ issues if she wins.

Villar has had a long stint in politics. She was congresswoman of the lone district of Las Piñas City from 2001 to 2010. She then became senator in 2013, running under the Nacionalista Party.

Former Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid

Actor and former senator Lito Lapid eyes a Senate comeback in 2019. Formerly with the Lakas-Kampi party, the 62-year-old will now be running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

Lapid served as senator for two consecutive terms, from 2004 to 2010 and 2010 to 2016. He ran for mayor of Angeles City in Pampanga in the 2016 elections, but lost to then incumbent mayor Edgardo Pamintuan by more than 30,000 votes.

Governor María Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos

On her final term as incumbent Ilocos Norte governor, 62-year-old Imee Marcos is running for senator under the banner of the Nacionalista party.. Her mother, former first lady Imelda Marcos, will be taking up her gubernatorial post.

Imee, daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, served as Ilocos Norte governor starting from 2010 up to the present. Prior to this, she was Ilocos Norte 2nd district representative from 1998 to 2007.

Imee Marcos’ political career started way back in 1975. She was appointed chairperson of the Kabataang Barangay, forerunner of the current Sangguniang Kabataan. She was also elected assemblyman for Ilocos Norte to the Batasang Pambansa, and held positions in the now-defunct National Media Production Center and Experimental Cinema of the Philippines.

Former interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas

Now 61, former interior secretary Manuel Roxas finally decided to run for a Senate seat in 2019 after prodding from the Liberal Party and other groups.

Roxas has had a long run in his political career, starting as a congressman of Capiz before taking up Cabinet posts under the Estrada and Arroyo administrations. He also ran and won for senator in 2004, a race where he finished first.

Roxas was initially fielded as the Liberal Party’s standard bearer in the 2010 national elections, but he later opted to run as vice-president instead, giving way to former president Benigno Aquino III to take the lead. He lost by a slim margin to former vice president Jejomar Binay.

Under the Aquino Cabinet, he served as secretary of transportation and communications before being appointed as interior secretary. After a failed presidential bid in the 2016 national elections, Roxas has lived a private life away from politics.

Former Senator Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III

At 74, former Senator Sergio Osmeña is running as an independent senator in the 2019 elections, and plans to help the president put good people in government agencies. Osmeña previously ran for reelection in 2016 but lost, ranking 14th in the official tally.

The veteran senator has served 3 terms in the Senate, from 1995 to 2001, 2001 to 2007, and 2010 to 2016. He also served as the chairman of the Senate committees on banks, financial institutions, and currencies, and on energy.

Former interior secretary Rafael Alunan III

Former interior secretary Rafael Alunan III is eyeing another return to the government as senator. Now 70, he filed his COC on Wednesday, October 17, under the Bagumbayan party.

Alunan previously ran as senator in 2016 after 20 years of being away from public office. After serving as interior secretary of then-President Fidel Ramos, he left the government to pursue a Masters degree in Public Administration from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government.

He was also the tourism secretary under President Corazon Aquino’s administration.

Local bets

Congresswoman Imelda Marcos

NO LIMITS. Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos is running for governor in 2019. File Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

The political race is far from over for former first lady Imelda Marcos, as she is set to replace her daughter, Imee Marcos, as governor of Ilocos Norte.

The 89-year-old incumbent Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda Marcos will be running under the banner of the Nationalista party alongside her grandson, Ilocos Norte Board Member Matthew Marcos Manotoc.

During her time in Malacañang, she was appointed governor of Metro Manila and Minister of Human Settlements. Following the downfall of her late husband’s dictatorial regime, Imelda resumed a career in politics, serving in the House of Representatives,from 1995-1998, and from 2010 until present.

Former vice president Jejomar Binay

The former vice president, aged 75, ended his break from politics, filing his candidacy for congressman of Makati City’s 1st district under the United Nationalist Alliance banner.

Binay was the first OIC mayor appointed by President Cory Aquino after Martial Law. He also became chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority under the President Ramos. He served Makati as mayor for several terms after that, before eventually running, and winning, as vice president in 2010.

He ran for president in 2016, but lost to President Duterte.

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr is set to stage a return to local politics, seeking to become Bohol governor. 74-year-old Evasco was a 3-term mayor in Maribojoc, Bohol. Under his watch, the municipality was raised from 5th class to 4th.

A longtime Duterte ally, Evasco was initially put in charge of 12 government agencies related to fighting poverty. Three agencies were later removed from his office.

He was also removed as chairman of the National Food Authority Council after allegations of being “shortsighted” and engaging in a turf war with other officials.

Former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez

Despite his ouster as House speaker, Davao del Norte 1st district representative Pantaleon Alvarez, 60, is gunning for reelection in 2019. He filed for candidacy on the last day under PDP-Laban. (READ: The women behind the fall of Alvarez)

Earlier this year, Alvarez had preferred to skip the midterm elections entirely to speed up the shift to federalism. However, elections are set to push through per Duterte’s decision, unless a new constitution is ratified earlier.

Alvarez first became congressman of the district in 1998. He also served as secretary of transportation and communications under President Arroyo.

Congresswoman Vilma Santos Recto

Batangas 6th district representative Vilma Santos Recto, 64, is seeking reelection for the post under the Nacionalista party. She will be running against incumbent Lipa City mayor Meynard Sabili.

The former actress entered politics in 1998 when she ran and won as mayor of Lipa City for 3 consecutive terms, becoming the city’s first female mayor. She then became governor of Batangas from 2007 to 2016, before entering the lower house.

Former Governor Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi

Former Cavite governor Erineo Maliksi is set to reclaim his seat in the province as he officially filed his COC last Wednesday, October 17. The 80-year-old’s local political run has been long, starting off as vice mayor of Imus before moving his way up to Congress.

Maliksi served as vice mayor of Imus for 6 years, and was eventually elected mayor of the city in 1988. He ran and won as 2nd District representative of Cavite in 1998.

After spending a term in Congress, he returned as governor of Cavite and served for 3 consecutive terms. He then ran and won as congressman of the then-newly created 3rd district of Cavite. He ran again as governor in 2013 but lost to then-incumbent and current contender Juanito Victor “Jonvic” Remulla.

Former agrarian reform secretary Heherson Alvarez

Veteran legislator Heherson Alvarez, 78, is running for congressman of the 4th district Isabela.

After the 1986 presidential elections, former president Corazon Aquino appointed Alvarez as secretary of agrarian reform. Less than a year after, he resigned from his post and was elected senator, serving for two inextendible terms of 12 years.

In 1998, Alvarez was elected as Isabela 4th District representative. He was also appointed as environment secretary under the Arroyo administration.

Congresswoman Rose Marie “Baby” Arenas

Pangasinan 3rd District representative is running for reelection for the upcoming polls. The 80-year-old legislator was also recently named caretaker of Batanes after the death of Henedina Abad.

The 80-year-old ran for senator in 1995 but lost. She made her way to the House of Representatives in 1998. She also replaced her daughter Rachel Arenas in the 2013 congressional race.

Arenas’ name was brought into the spotlight in 1993 after allegations of past intimate relations with then President Ramos emerged. Ramos neither acknowledged nor denied the reports.

In the book Endless Journey: A Memoir by Rappler editor-at-large Marites Dañguilan Vitug, former national security adviser Jose Almonte said Arenas had wanted to become president after Ramos. But her daughter Rachel disputed the statement.

Congressman Danilo Suarez

At 75, congressman Danilo Suarez is shifting gears and running for governor of Quezon. His wife, Aleta Suarez, will be replacing him as 3rd district representative of the province.

The House minority leader was elected into Congress in 1992, serving for 3 terms until 2001. He would return to Congress again from 2004 to 2013, and from 2016 to present. He was also appointed as vice chair of the National Road Board during the Arroyo administration.

Congressman Luis Villafuerte

Camarines Sur 2nd District Luis Villafuerte is gearing for reelection his coming elections. The 83-year-old Villafuerte patriarch has served as governor of the province from 1986 to 1992 and 1995 to 2004.

He was set to return to the gubernatorial post in 2013, but was defeated by his grandson Luis Miguel Villafuerte.

Former budget secretary Florencio Abad

Former budget secretary Florencio Abad, now 64, is eyeing a return as Batanes congressman in 2019. He previously served the district in 1987 before he was appointed as agrarian reform secretary by President Corazon Aquino. He returned to Congress from 1995 to 2004.

Under the Arroyo administration, Abad was appointed education secretary. He resigned from the post in 2004 amid the “Hello Garci” controversy involving the then-president. In 2010, he was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III as budget secretary.

Former Mayor Monico Puentevella

Former Mayor Monico Puentevella is not giving up, as he filed his COC for representative of Bacolod City last Tuesday, October 16. He is no stranger to the post, serving as congressman of the lone district for about 9 years. In 2013, he was elected mayor.

72-year-old Puentevella faced several controversies during his political career. In 2015, the Sandiganbayan ordered a 90-day suspension order for the mayor over graft charges on alleged procurement of overpriced computers when he was still congressman.

Puentevella was also indicted for graft and malversation for failing to liquidate funds worth P21.56 million that was allotted for his city’s hosting of the 2005 South East Asian Games.

Congressman Ronaldo Zamora

San Juan congressman Ronaldo Zamora, 63, is seeking reelection in the lone district for 2019. He was previously executive secretary to former president and incumbent Manila mayor Joseph Estrada, but resigned during the height of the president’s impeachment.

Zamora has held public office since Martial Law as parliament member of Kilusang Bagong Lipunan. He has also served in Congress for many terms.

Governor Jose Maria Zubiri Jr

Incumbent Bukidnon governor Jose Maria Zubiri Jr is seeking a final term in office. 78-year-old Zubiri has been serving the province since 1987, first as congressman of the 3rd district, then as vice governor. He first assumed the gubernatorial post in 2013.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan

At 72, Baguio City mayor Mauricio Domogan eyes a comeback as congressman of the lone district as his term comes to an end. Domogan had served for 3 consecutive terms in Congress back in 2001. He has also ran the city as mayor for 18 years– from 1992 to 2001, and from 2010 to present. –

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