Only 1 in 7 lawmakers are fresh faces

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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Only 34 of the 234 district representatives are going to Congress for the first time and are not related to former solons. But only 4 are really new to politics.


MANILA, Philippines – The 16th Congress, which opens Monday, July 22, is barely a new one.

If a fresh face means a first-term district representative with no relatives who have served in the Lower House before, then the incoming batch of congressmen and women only have 34 of such, out of the 234.

They comprise only 15% of the district representatives – 1 in every 7 – who will be sitting until the end of the Aquino administration in 2016.

In fact, in the strict sense of the word, only 4 are really political neophytes – not having held any elective posts before:

  • broadcaster Sol Aragones of Laguna
  • doctor Helen Tan of Quezon
  • dentist Marie Ann Pernes
  • lawyer Leni Robredo in Camarines Sur.

Robredo is not even a stranger to political work. She networked with non-governmental organizations during the two decades that her husband, the late Jesse Robredo, was mayor of Naga City.

The other congressional newbies were incumbent local officials when they ran for district office in 2013 polls (24 of them), former elected officials (4), and former appointed officials (2).

At least 14 of these newcomers, including Robredo and Aragones, defeated the incumbents in their respective districts.

New faces, old family names

There are 29 who are serving in Congress for the first time. Yet their family names are not new in the chamber, since one or more of their relatives served there.

At least 21 of them are replacing their relatives who served in the last Congress.

Incumbents, returning solons

Constituting a majority of the incoming solons are 148 from the last Congress. They are 146 district representatives who were re-elected, and two party-list congressmen who ran and won in their districts in May.

Among the re-electionists, 88 will be serving their second term, while 55 have reached their term limit and will be “graduating” in 2016.

Three “re-electionists” became congressmen as replacements of congressmen who died in office 2010-2013. So this is considered their first real term.

A total of 171 representatives ran for re-election this year, but 23 of them lost their bid to retain their seats.

Three party-list representatives chose to run for district representatives, but only two succeeded:

  • Arlene Bag-ao of Akbayan won in Dinagat Islands (lone district).
  • Teodorico Haresco of Kasangga won in Aklan (lone district).
  • Salvador Cabaluna III of 1-CARE lost in Iloilo (2nd district).

Rappler earlier reported that there’s not much space for newcomers in the 16th Congress due to re-electionists

Twenty-three former congressmen successfully made a comeback and will be part of the 16th Congress. 

Majority of these returning congressmen last served in the 12th Congress (2001-2004), then pursued other elective posts for the next 3 years before re-claiming their congressional seat. –

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