VERA FILES FACT SHEET: What you need to know about the senatorial candidates

First of six parts

Editor’s note: The infographic on MAGDALO Representative Gary Alejano has been updated to correct the information on the number of bills he authored and co-authored in the 17th Congress and the impeachment complaints he filed in 2017 and 2018.

We apologize for the mistake.

On May 13, Filipinos will cast their ballots to choose the country’s next set of lawmakers and local government officials. Among the more than 18,000 positions to be filled are 12 senators who will impact, if not determine, the course of the nation’s policies in the coming years.

In this series, VERA Files Fact Check compiled relevant information on this election’s Senate hopefuls to aid the public in making their decision.

From the Commission on Elections’ 62 candidates, we narrowed the list down to 40 based on the following criteria:

  • Reelectionists;
  • Members of, or those backed by political parties; or
  • Candidates that have made it at least once in the top 12 of pre-election surveys conducted by independent pollsters Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations.

The 40 candidates were grouped based on their Senate experience--those with and those without--then arranged alphabetically. Each profile contains the candidate’s legislative platform, government experience or field of expertise, issues and controversies faced, relatives in government and other interesting facts.

Also included are the pertinent fact checks of, or related to the candidate, as done by VERA Files Fact Check and its media and academic partners in the collaboration.

Part 1 of the series covers seven candidates--former Pagsanjan Mayor Abner Afuang, singer-composer Freddie Aguilar, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, ex-Interior Secretary Raffy Alunan, lawyer Marcelino Arias, former Metro Manila Development Authority official Balde Baldevarona and broadcast journalist Melchor Chavez.

Here are some facts you need to know:

Abner Afuang, former mayor of Pagsanjan, Laguna

Freddie Aguilar, singer/composer

Gary Alejano, MAGDALO party-list representative

Raffy Alunan, former Interior secretary

Mar Arias, lawyer

Balde Baldevarona, former PNP Highway Patrol Group officer

Mel Chavez, Labor Party Philippines National President


Abner Afuang

Abner Afuang, Curriculum Vitae

Commission on Elections, Abner Afuang Certificate of Candidacy

Official Facebook Page of Abner Afuang

ABS-CBN Youtube, Harapan 2019: The ABS-CBN Senatorial Town Hall Debate, Feb. 24, 2019

ABS-CBN News Youtube, DZMM Teleradyo: KONTRA-BERSYA: Afuang at Montaño may sagot sa mga usaping idinidikit sa kanila, Jan. 17, 2019

GMA Public Affairs Youtube, Investigative Documentaries: Abner Afuang, planong tutukan ang karapatan ng mga senior citizen, March 7, 2019, Cops, military, NBI, US narc in ’90s drug bust, February 11, 2016

News5Everywhere Youtube, Aplikante sa Senado - Abner Afuang, March 29, 2019

Senate hearing on sex video scandal

Defacing and burning of foreign flags

Freddie Aguilar

Freddie Aguilar campaign team, Curriculum Vitae

Freddie Aguilar campaign team, Objectives, The Freddie Aguilar Story

Lockard, C. (1998). Dance of Life: Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asia pp. 144-151. University of Hawai'i Press. Retrieved April 4, 2019

Interaksyon, How Freddie Aguilar went from music to politics, Oct. 11, 2018

Senate of the Philippines, Senate Resolution 101, March 13, 2018

Commission on Elections, Freddie Aguilar Certificate of Candidacy

Ang Tunay Na Boses Ng Masa, FREDDIE AGUILAR OBJECTIVES, July 10, 2018

Aguilar seduction raps

NCCA head

Aguilar on Rizal photobomber

Official Gazette, Official Week in Review: February 8-February 14, 1982, March 8, 1982

Billboard, Manila Fest Keys On Hit Potential (p.57), May 1, 1982

Gary Alejano

Office of Rep. Gary Alejano. (n.d.). “Background ni Gary Alejano.”

Office of Rep. Gary Alejano. (n.d.). “Kilalanin si Gary Alejano.”

Office of Rep. Gary Alejano. (n.d.). Paper Bio.

Raffy Alunan

Alunan Campaign Team, Curriculum Vitae

Rafael Alunan III official Facebook account, RAFAEL MORENO ALUNAN III Bio Data, April 3, 2019

Bloomberg, Rafael Moreno Alunan III

PeoPlaid, Raffy Alunan III Biography

Rafael M. Alunan official Facebook page (repost from UP Political Society), SINOtoriables: Alunan, Raffy, March 23, 2016

Rogue, Raffy Alunan’s War: Why the ex-DILG chief broke a 20-year hiatus to run for Senate, May 2, 2016

Entrepreneur Philippines, Rafael III Alunan on moving forward, embracing entrepreneurship, May 15, 2016

Defenders of Philippine Sovereignty, Who Am I, Sept. 2, 2015, Harvard alumni in PH unite for a cause, Oct. 20, 2014

CNN Philippines, Get to know candidates in #TheFilipinoVotes: Senatorial Forum Part 2, Jan. 27, 2019

GMA News Online, NGO coalition gears up for July 24 protest vs ‘China bullying’ of its South China Sea neighbors, July 17, 2013

BusinessMirror, Alunan to Aquino: Focus on West Philippine Sea, not term extension, Aug. 21, 2014

Philippine News Agency, Duterte includes Alunan in senate slate, Feb. 24, 2019

ABS-CBN News, Ex-DILG chief Alunan completes Duterte’s Senate lineup, Feb. 23, 2019

GMA News Online, Duterte campaigns in Laguna for PDP-Laban, guest senate bets, Feb. 23, 2019

ABS-CBN News, Ex-DILG chief Alunan gives Senate another try, Oct. 17, 2018, Ex-DILG chief Alunan runs for senator, Oct. 16, 2015

ABS-CBN News, ‘To re-introduce myself’: Ex-DILG chief Alunan bares reason for Senate run, Feb. 14, 2019

Official Gazette, The Final Report of the Fact-Finding Commission: V: The Failed December 1989 Coup: Pre-Coup Events and Battle Zone Narratives, Oct. 3, 1990, The AQUINO MANAGEMENT Of The Presidency, June 1992

BusinessWorld, Throwback: A coup d’etat before Christmas, Dec. 4, 2014

Manila Bulletin, Party-list group to push for law ensuring continuinty of laudable programs of past administrations, Feb. 20, 2019

BusinessWorld, Our EEZ is 360 degrees, Jan. 30, 2019

Mar Arias

Marcelino Arias’ Campaign Team, Curriculum Vitae

Commission on Elections, Marcelino Arias Certificate of Candidacy

Official Facebook Page, Mar Arias for Senator 2019 Movement

ABS-CBN Youtube, Harapan 2019: The ABS-CBN Senatorial Town Hall Debate, March 3, 2019

DZBB Facebook Page, Live sa DZBB: Atty. Marcelino Arias at dating Solicitor General Florin Hilbay sa “Ikaw Na Ba? The Senatorial Interview 2019, Jan. 29, 2019

ABS-CBN Youtube, DZMM TeleRadyo: Mga nais magsenador, napasabak sa 'Sen Tanong, Sen Sagot,' Jan. 29, 2019

News5Everywhere Youtube, Aplikante sa Senado - Atty. Marcelino Arias, April 3, 2019

Supreme Court, People of the Philippines, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. Loreto Medenilla, July 12, 2001

Balde Baldevarona

Baldevarona, J. (n.d.). Jonathan Baldevarona Curriculum Vitae.

Baldevarona, J. (n.d.). “Si Balde at and ‘Filipino Family Party.’”

Mel Chavez

Melchor Chavez Campaign Manager, Curriculum Vitae

Commision on Elections, Melchor Chavez Certificate of Candidacy

Official Facebook Page, Melchor “Mel” Chavez

ABS-CBN News Youtube, Harapan 2019: The ABS-CBN Senatorial Town Hall Debate, March 3, 2019

ABS-CBN News Youtube, DZMM TeleRadyo: Ikaw Na Ba - Panayam ng DZMM sa mga nais magsenador, Jan. 31, 2019

Ran for every Senatorial election since 1992

Laid coffins in Comelec

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)


VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Where Senate bets stand on top five concerns of the Filipino voter

This is the second of six parts.

VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Where Senate bets stand on top five concerns of the Filipino voter

Where do senatorial candidates stand on issues voters most care about?

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte wrongly claims Raffy Alunan served in Marcos cabinet

Alunan was Interior Secretary during the term of former President Fidel Ramos, not Marcos.

About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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