By the numbers: 17th Congress

Michael Bueza

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By the numbers: 17th Congress
Get to know the current members of the Senate and the House of Representatives

MANILA, Philippines – On Monday, July 25, the day President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his first State of the Nation Address, the 17th Congress will also start its first regular session.

The President will have to work with the Senate and the House of Representatives to push for priority legislation that will put his plans for the country into action. 

This batch of lawmakers is composed of 24 senators, plus representatives from 238 districts and 59 congressmen from party-list groups.

However, as of July 13, there are 5 vacant seats in the House. Four seats for 3 winning party lists remain unallocated due to pending issues, while the 5th vacancy arose following the death of Sulu 1st District Representative Tupay Loong last June.

All congressmen will serve for 3 years, until 2019. Half of the senators – all elected in the May 2016 polls – will serve for 6 years, until 2022. The terms of the remaining half, elected in 2013, will end in 2019.

How does the current composition of the 17th Congress look like? 

Mostly men

Male legislators still outnumber females in both houses of Congress. In the Senate, only 6 are women, the same number as in the 16th Congress. 

Meanwhile, in the House, around 7 in 10 representatives are male. Only at least 87 lawmakers are women, 6 more than in the previous Congress. The count includes Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman, the first Filipino transgender lawmaker elected to Congress. 

Average age is 52

In both the Senate and House of Representatives, the lawmakers’ average age is 52. 

Over 100 representatives are 45-54 years old, while 65 members are 55-64 years old.

The oldest senator is 70-year-old Richard Gordon, who is turning 71 in August. Senator Franklin Drilon is also 70 years old, but Gordon is older by 3 months.

Meanwhile, 37-year-old Manny Pacquiao is the youngest senator, edging out the 16th Congress’ youngest, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, who is 39 years old.

At the House of Representatives, Ilocos Norte congresswoman Imelda Marcos remains the oldest, at 87. Joining her in the top 5 are veteran lawmakers Deogracias Ramos of Sorsogon (83), Raul Daza of Northern Samar (81), Feliciano Belmonte Jr of Quezon City (79), and Jorge Almonte of Misamis Oriental (78).

Meanwhile, the youngest representative is Dennis Laogan of Ang Kabuhayan party list, who is 25 years old. He is followed by Sarah Jane Elago of Kabataan (26), Harlin Neil Abayon III of Aangat Tayo (27), last Congress’ youngest XJ Romualdo of Camiguin (29), and Christopher de Venecia of Pangasinan (29).

Abayon, Romualdo, and De Venecia are scions of former congressmen.

Under the Constitution, senators should be at least 35 years old and representatives at least 25 years old.


Among the senators, only 4 are on their second and last term: Drilon, Vicente Sotto III, Ralph Recto, and Loren Legarda.

First-termers also dominate the House, with at least 136 representatives. Among them, 29 are returning congressmen.

Not included in the count are 2 party-list representatives who were elected district representatives in 2016: Valenzuela 1st District Representative Weslie Gatchalian (previously Alay Buhay congressman) and Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Maximo Rodriguez Jr (former Abante Mindanao congressman). 

Both Gatchalian and Rodriguez are on their 3rd straight term in the House, but on their 1st term as district representatives.

At least 79 are second-termers, while at least 75 are on their 3rd and last term.

By civil status

Among the senators, 3 declared themselves as single in their certificate of candidacy (COC): Gatchalian, Legarda, and Leila de Lima. The marriages of Legarda and De Lima were annulled.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros indicated in her COC that she is a widow.

In the House, all except 54 are married. Out of the 54, 38 are single, 14 are widows or widowers, while the marriage of Cotabato 2nd District Representative Nancy Catamco was annulled.

In her COC, Tawi-Tawi Representative Ruby Sahali left the field for civil status blank, “because the option is not available.”

By political party

The Liberal Party (LP) has 6 members in the Senate. There are 5 senators who declared themselves as independents, while the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has 4 members.

Three each are from the Nacionalista Party (NP) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), while there is one member each for Akbayan, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), and PDP-Laban.

Over at the Batasan, based on the COCs of House representatives, 116 were nominated by LP while only 3 ran under the PDP-Laban banner.

But after the 2016 polls, many congressmen from LP and other parties have defected to PDP-Laban.

After Duterte’s victory, many parties like the NPC, NP, and the National Unity Party (NUP) formed coalitions for a “supermajority” in the House.

Several LP members, including outgoing House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, are the latest to join the PDP-Laban bloc, following an “agreement of support” signed on Sunday, July 24.

There is no official data available yet from the House of Representatives on the current party affiliations of its members. –

Note: As of this posting, Rappler has yet to obtain information about the age and civil status of Acts-OFW Representative Aniceto Bertiz III.

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.