FAST FACTS: PDP-Laban nominees for the 2022 Philippine elections

The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has announced its candidates for the 2022 elections.

On Wednesday, September 8, the Cusi faction officially nominated Senator Bong Go and President Rodrigo Duterte as its presidential and vice presidential bets, respectively. Duterte already accepted the nomination, but Go had declined.

The faction also named the following nominees for senators:

  • Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III
  • Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
  • Leyte 4th District Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez
  • Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade

The following we announced as “guest candidates”:

  • Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Chairman Greco Belgica
  • SAGIP Representative Rodante Marcoleta
  • Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque
  • Public Works Secretary Mark Villar

The other faction within the party, which is led by senators Manny Pacquiao and Aquilino Pimentel III, will hold its own assembly later in September to name their own nominees for the 2022 elections.

Get to know the candidates of the Cusi-led PDP-Laban faction for the 2022 elections.

For president

Christopher “Bong” Go, senator
  • Years in government:
    • 23 (including 17 years as Duterte’s personal aide when the latter was Davao City mayor)
  • Positions held:
    • Senator (18th Congress, 2018 to present)
    • Head, Presidential Management Staff (2016 to 2018)
    • Special Assistant to the President (2016 to 2018)
    • Personal aide/special assistant to Duterte (since 1998)
  • Home city: Davao
  • Controversies:
    • Linked to former budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, who’s tagged in the questionable procurement of COVID-19 supplies flagged by COA.
    • Linked to the anomalous P15.7-billion frigates deal in 2018
    • Drew flak online in July 2020 after he asked the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate social media posts critical of him
    • His Balik Probinsya program, which aimed to decongest Metro Manila by assisting citizens to go to their home provinces during the pandemic, was criticized for lack of coordination in May 2020.
  • Achievements
    • Authored the Malasakit Center Act, which was signed into law in 2019
  • Statements and actions on key issues
    • WAR ON DRUGS: Consistently supported Duterte’s war on drugs
    • DEATH PENALTY: Filed a bill in 2019 to restore death penalty for illegal drugs cases
    • PANDEMIC, WEST PHILIPPINE SEA: Said in May 2021 that the fight against the pandemic is as important as the West Philippine Sea issue

For vice president

Rodrigo Duterte, president
  • Years in government: 33
  • Positions held
    • President of the Philippines (2016 to present)
    • Mayor, Davao City (2013 to 2016)
    • Vice mayor, Davao City (2010 to 2013)
    • Mayor, Davao City (2001 to 2010)
    • Representative, 1st district of Davao City (11th Congress, 1998 to 2001)
    • Mayor, Davao City (1988 to 1998)
    • Officer-in-charge vice mayor, Davao City (1986 to 1988)
  • Home city: Davao
  • Statements and actions on key issues
    • WEST PHILIPPINE SEA: In May 2021, he belittled the 2016 Hague ruling on the West Philippine Sea and said he would “throw it in waste basket.”
    • SECURITY: Signed the anti-terror law in July 2020, amid the pandemic
    • PANDEMIC: 
      • Downplayed the coronavirus crisis and said in March 2020 that there’s “nothing really to be extra scared of”
      • Told the police to “shoot dead” unruly quarantine violators in April 2020
    • LABOR: Vetoed the anti-endo bill in 2019
    • DEATH PENALTY: Repeatedly asked Congress to reinstate death penalty since he was a presidential candidate
    • TRUTHFULNESS: Has repeatedly lied in his speeches and statements since 2016

For senator

Greco Belgica, PACC chairman
  • ​​Years in government: At least 6
  • Positions held
    • Commissioner, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (2018 to 2021)
    • Chairman, PACC (March 2021 to present)
    • City councilor, 6th District of the City of Manila (2004 to 2007)
  • Home city: Manila
  • Controversies
    • Ran for senator twice and lost: under the Democratic Party of the Philippines in 2013, and in 2019
    • Filed a disbarment case against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales in 2017 for allegedly violating the lawyers’ code when she dismissed all criminal and administrative complaints against former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III over the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
      • The Supreme Court (SC) junked the complaint.  
  • Achievements
    • Filed another petition in 2014 against the DAP
      • The SC ruled that the DAP had two unconstitutional executive actions.
    • In 2013, he filed petitions to strike down congressional pork or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the President’s Social Fund (PSF), and the Malampaya Fund 
      • The SC ruled in 2013 that the PDAF was unconstitutional, stopped the release of Malampaya funds for projects that were not energy-related, and disallowed the utilization of PSF for priority infrastructure development projects.
  • Statements and actions on key issues
    • PANDEMIC: Vowed to go after abusive local officials during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • DEATH PENALTY: Pushed for the reimposition of the death penalty
Silvestre Bello III, labor secretary
  • Years in government: At least 28
  • Positions held
    • Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment (2016 to present)
    • Representative, 1BAP party list (16th Congress, 2013 to 2016)
    • Cabinet secretary (2008 to 2010)
    • Presidential adviser for New Government Centers (2007 to 2008)
    • General manager and CEO, Philippine Reclamation Authority (2006)
    • President and CEO, PNOC Development and Management Corporation (2004 to 2005)
    • Chairman of the Government Negotiating Panel for Talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People's Army, and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (2001 to 2004)
    • Justice secretary (1998)
    • Solicitor general (1996 to 1998)
    • Justice secretary (1990 to 1992)
    • Undersecretary, Department of Justice or DOJ (1986 to 1990)
  • Home city and province: Ilagan City, Isabela
  • Controversies
    • Has not yet passed the anti-endo bill
    • In 2018, a complaint was filed against Bello for allegedly extorting money from manpower agencies sending workers abroad
  • Achievements
    • Elected chairman of the International Labour Organization in July 2021
    • Under his leadership, the DOLE was named the department champion in the 2019 Freedom of Information Awards
  • Statements and actions on key issues
    • LICENSURE EXAMS: In July 2021, questioned the need for licensure exams for certain professions and argued that students have already gone through several tests before graduating
    • WORKERS' PROTECTION: Rejected the Philippine National Police’s proposal to require the national police clearance (NPC) for transactions in 2021
    • HUMAN RIGHTS: Defended Duterte in 2017 over accusations of human rights abuses, and said that the President's "track record" could speak for itself
    • DEATH PENALTY: Opposed the revival of death penalty in 2014 and said that it failed to curb rising criminality when it was in effect
Rodante Marcoleta, SAGIP representative
  • Years in government: At least 17
  • Positions held
    • Representative, SAGIP party list (17th to 18th Congress, 2016 to 2022)
    • Representative, Alagad party list (14th to 15th Congress Congress, 2009 to 2013)
    • Representative, Alagad party list (13th Congress, 2004 to 2007)
  • Hometown and province: Paniqui, Tarlac
  • Controversies
    • Referred to the House justice committee an impeachment complaint against SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen in May 2021. The complaint was later junked
    • Distributed free ivermectin to around 500 people in Quezon City in April 2021 despite the medicine’s lack of approval from the Food and Drug Administration
    • Voted against renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN in 2020
    • Led the House to give the Commission on Human Rights a budget of only P1,000 in 2017
      • Claimed that the CHR has not been validly created, even if the Constitution provides for it
  • Achievements
    • One of the co-authors of the free basic medicine services for Filipinos and the magna carta for the poor, among other key legislations
    • Voted against the return of the death penalty in 2017
    • Voted in favor of free tuition in college and the highly controversial reproductive health bill. 
  • Statements and actions on key issues
    • PANDEMIC SPENDING: Said it is unfair that the Commission on Audit is disclosing its reports on the Department of Health without waiting for further documents from the latter
    • MEDIA FREEDOM: One of the staunchest critics of ABS-CBN who pushed for the non-renewal of the network’s franchise
Salvador Panelo, chief presidential legal counsel
  • Years in government: At least 5
  • Positions held
    • Chief presidential legal counsel (2016 to present)
    • Presidential spokesperson (2018 to April 2020)
  • Home city and province: Naga, Camarines Sur
  • Controversies 
    • Perpetuated and endorsed several disinformation efforts, including the ouster plot matrix in 2019
      • Admitted that he received a copy from an unknown number and did not verify the content
    • Defense lawyer of Andal Ampatuan Jr., one of the masterminds of the country's worst case of election-related violence, which left 58 people dead: the Maguindanao Massacre
      • Was quoted in a 2014 Philippine Star article as saying that the Ampatuans were just “framed to seize political power.” 
      • Withdrew as legal counsel in 2015 as requested by his client due to “personal reasons.”
    • In 2013, he lawyered for then-detained Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. – one of the senators facing plunder charges in relation to the pork barrel scam.
    • Handled high-profile and controversial cases:
      • Defense lawyer of former Calauan, Laguna, mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted for rape and double murder in 1995 in relation to the deaths of University of the Philippines-Los Baños students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez.
        • Sanchez was the center of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law in 2019.
        • Panelo endorsed Sanchez’s letter for clemency. He threatened Inquirer.net and Rappler of libel over their reports of this issue.
      • One of the lawyers of the Marcoses
        • Quoted in a 2006 GMA report as saying that the Marcoses did not have any ill-gotten wealth
  • Statements and actions on key issues 
    • WEST PHILIPPINE SEA: Consistently downplayed Chinese presence in Philippine waters
    • PANDEMIC: Dismissive of concerns during the pandemic
      • Tried to downplay the fears of the public regarding the lockdown, saying in 2020 that “walang namamatay sa gutom (no one dies of hunger)”
      • Said Duterte’s threat of arresting those who refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus “is not without a constitutional basis
Harry Roque, presidential spokesperson
  • Years in government: At least 5
  • Positions held:
    • Presidential spokesperson (2020 to present)
    • Presidential adviser on human rights (2017 to present)
    • Presidential spokesperson (2017 to 2018)
    • Representative, Kabayan party list (17th Congress, 2016 to 2017)
  • Home cities: Pasay and Quezon City
  • Controversies
    • Criticized for easily getting a room in the Philippine General Hospital in April 2021 when he tested positive for COVID-19 while others waited
    • Criticized for visiting the Ocean Adventure marine theme park in Subic Bay Freeport Zone amid the pandemic in July 2020. He was seen without a face mask.
    • Threatened to resign, according to Duterte, after he was not informed of the President’s hospital visit in 2018
      • Duterte said he told Roque to “go”
      • Roque eventually resigned and announced plans to run for senator in 2019
    • Dropped out of the 2019 senatorial race, citing a medical condition. This came after Duterte publicly said that Roque “won’t win” a Senate seat.
  • Achievements
    • Co-founded the Center for International Law, which represented:
      • Victims of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre
      • The Malaya Lolas, a group of comfort women during the Japanese occupation
      • Family of murdered transgender Jennifer Laude
      • Family of the murdered environmental advocate and journalist Gerry Ortega 
    • Won the first-ever case granting the petition for the writ of Amparo in favor of a journalist in 2014
  • Statements and actions on key issues
    • CYBERCRIME: Opposed the Cybercrime Law
    • GENDER SENSITIVITY: Defended Duterte’s misogynistic remarks
    • PANDEMIC: Said in March 2021 that the Philippine government was “excellent” in controlling COVID-19, despite the nonstop imposition of lockdown measures and rising cases
    • WEST PHILIPPINE SEA: Consistently defended Duterte’s defeatist remarks on the West Philippine Sea and shifted the blame on the media for reporting the President’s remarks
    • WAR ON DRUGS: Supported and defended Duterte’s war on drugs
      • Downplayed the International Criminal Court’s probe into Duterte's human rights abuses  
Lucy Torres-Gomez, Leyte 4th district representative
  • Years in government: At least 11
  • Positions held
    • Representative, 4th District of Leyte (16th to 18th Congress, 2013 to 2022)
    • Representative, 4th District of Leyte (15th Congress, 2010 to 2013)
  • Home city and province: Ormoc, Leyte
  • Controversies:
    • Ran for district representative in 2010 as a substitute candidate for her husband, Richard Gomez, after the latter lacked the residential requirement. Richard eventually ran for Ormoc City mayor. 
    • Was ousted as district representative in March 2013 after the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that her substitution for her husband Richard Gomez in the 2010 elections was invalid.
  • Achievements
    • Co-authored and lobbied for legislations related to children’s welfare, among others, including:
      • A proposed bill that will increase penalties for child exploitation
      • A proposed bill that will build birthing center in every barangay
    • Personal advocacies include promotion of children’s welfare and church-related projects 
  • Statements and actions on key issues
    • DEATH PENALTY: Supported the restoration of death penalty in 2017
    • SECURITY: Voted in favor of the anti-terror law in 2020
      • Said that fear of abuse “is not a valid reason to reject a bill outright.” 
    • SMEs: Called on the government to strengthen its support of small and medium enterprises during the pandemic
Arthur Tugade, transportation secretary
  • Years in government: At least 9
  • Positions held
    • Secretary, Department of Transportation or DOTr (2016 to present)
    • President and chief executive officer, Clark Development Corporation (2012 to 2016)
  • Home province: Cagayan
  • Controversies 
    • The DOTr under his leadership is the subject of criticism, particularly over traffic and issues with the Metro Rail Transit. 
    • Allegedly been the subject of complaints of some businessmen in 2017, but Duterte doubts he is corrupt
    • Called jeepney drivers who joined a strike in 2017 “selfish and small-minded
    • Said in 2017 that jeepney operators who were against the ​​Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program would be held accountable, adding that franchises were not a right, but privilege
  • Achievements
    • The DOTr under him ended a five-year row with a Chinese machinery conglomerate in 2017 over a dropped rail deal
      • Evaded international arbitration and spared the Philippines from a P5-billion obligation
  • Statements and actions on key issues
    • WEST PHILIPPINE SEA: Designated the Philippine Coast Guard in 2019 to intensify patrol in the West Philippine Sea following alleged harassment in the area 
    • PANDEMIC: DOTr wanted to reduce physical distancing in public vehicles 
    • COMMUTER ISSUES: Sought understanding regarding commuting issues during the pandemic
Mark Villar, public works secretary
  • Years in government: 21
  • Positions held
    • Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases isolation czar (2020 to present)
    • Secretary, Department of Public Works and Highways or DPWH (2016 to present)
    • Representative, Las Piñas City (15th to 16th Congress, 2010 to 2016); reelected in 2010 for a 3rd term, but he joined the Duterte Cabinet one month into his term; his wife, a party list representative, was designated caretaker congresswoman of Las Piñas
  • Home city: Las Piñas
  • Controversies
    • Prior to assuming the DPWH post, there were concerns over his conflict of interest, considering his family’s vast business engagements, including real estate development
    • His wife, Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay Villar, was suspected of vested interests in the water deals review in 2019.
    • Under his leadership, Duterte said there was corruption in the DPWH but cleared Villar supposedly because he was already rich.
      • Villar created a task force to investigate the allegations in 2021
    • Has been criticized for the numerous revisions in the list of Build Build Build projects
    • Has been criticized for grabbing the credit for infrastructure projects that were already started by previous administrations
    • Already spent P481,207 on Facebook ads ahead of the 2022 election
  • Achievements
    • Fast-tracked infrastructure development under Build Build Build as public works secretary, although critics note that the government’s infrastructure program has been underperforming compared to its own targets.
    • Authored laws that aim to help businesses and consumers in the Philippines
      • Go Negosyo Act, passed in 2014
      • Philippine Lemon Law, passed in 2014
  • Statements and actions on key issues

– with reports from Vernise Tantuco and Michelle Abad/Rappler.com

Pauline Macaraeg

Pauline Macaraeg is part of the Rappler Research Team’s fact-checking unit. Aside from debunking dubious claims, she also enjoys crunching data and writing stories about the economy, environment, and media democracy.

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.

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