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

Editor’s note: The infographic on Mar Roxas has been updated to correct the information on the year he won the senatorial elections. The previous version bore 2014 instead of 2004.

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 6 of the series covers seven candidates–incumbent and former senators Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid, Serge Osmeña, Koko Pimentel, Grace Poe, Mar Roxas, and Cynthia Villar.

Here are some facts you need to know:

Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, former Senator

Manuel “Lito” Lapid, former Senator, Actor

Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III

Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel

Grace Poe

Manuel “Mar” Roxas

Cynthia Villar


Jinggoy Estrada

Campaign Team of Jinggoy Estrada, Curriculum Vitae and Profile

Commission on Elections, Jinggoy Estrada Certificate of Candidacy

Jinggoy Estrada Official Facebook Page, Jinggoy Estrada

Senate of the Philippines, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada


Senate of the Philippines, Republic Act 10361: Domestic Workers Act

Senate of the Philippines,

Senate of the Philippines, Republic Act 10691: Strengthened Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Act

Senate of the Philippines, Republic Act 10151: An Act Allowing the Employment of Night Workers

Senate of the Philippines, Republic Act 10917: An Act Strengthening the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES)

Pork Barrel Scam,, Jinggoy seeks dismissal of P183-M plunder case, April 5, 2019

Rappler, Jinggoy Estrada asks court for outright dismissal of plunder case, Feb. 28, 2019

CNN Philippines, Jinggoy Estrada out on bail after 3 years in detention, Sept. 16, 2017

Business Mirror, SC upholds finding to indict Jinggoy for plunder, graft for PDAF misuse, July 31, 2018

ABS-CBN News, TIMELINE: Jinggoy Estrada’s pork barrel scam case, Sept. 15, 2017

Philstar, Ombudsman blocks Jinggoy Estrada’s bid to dismiss plunder case, March 5, 2019

Manuel “Lito” Lapid

Lito Lapid campaign team, Profile, Senator Manuel “Lito” Mercado Lapid, Lito Lapid vows to champion education in Senate comeback, Feb. 20, 2019

ABS-CBN News, Lito Lapid seeks Senate return, Oct. 15, 2018

SunStar Pampanga, Sangil: Lapid, Ang Probinsyano, Oct. 22, 2018, ‘Senate misfit’ Lito Lapid to run for Pampanga mayor, May 12, 2015, Lapid keen on running for Angeles mayor, Oct. 3, 2003

The Manila Times, Trivia on Lapid, the graduate, Jan. 9, 2016, List of Previous Senators, Lito Lapid files his COC, Oct. 14, 2018


  •, Senate Bills 2361 and 2301
  •, Senate Bills 2046 and 1821
  •, Senate Bills 3365 and 956
  •, Senate Bill 2796


Fertilizer scam

Plunder case

Wife, cash smuggling

Mark Lapid, graft charges

Relatives in government

Mayoral defeats, Senate Bill 237, Senate Bill 2239

Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III

Office of Serge Osmeña III, Curriculum Vitae and Profile

Commission on Elections, Serge Osmeña III Certificate of Candidacy

Serge Osmeña III Official Facebook Page, Senator Serge Osmeña III

Facebook Page, Serge Osmeña Supporters

Senate of the Philippines, Senator Sergio R. Osmeña III Biography 13th Congress

Senate of the Philippines,

Commission on Elections, Certified List of Candidates (Provincial)

Tommy Osmeña Official Facebook Page, Tommy Osmeña About

WayBack Machine, John Henry R. Osmeña, Jan. 1, 2007

ABS-CBN Online, Makabayan Coalition backs 9 senate bets, March 3, 2019

CNN Philippines, Makabayan bloc endorses 9 senatorial bets in May polls, March 4, 2019

Rappler, For an ‘independent Senate,’ Makabayan endorses 9 candidates, March 3, 2019


Senate of the Philippines, Republic Act 9433: Magna Carta for Public Social Workers

Official Gazette, Republic Act 9442: Magna for Disabled Persons, and for Other Purposes

Senate of the Philippines, Republic Act 10606: National Health Insurance Act of 2013

Official Gazette, Republic Act 8972: Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000

Philippine Commission on Women, Republic Act 8980: Early Childhood Care and Development Act

Senate of the Philippines, Republic Act 9439, An Act Prohibiting the Detention of Patients in Hospitals and Medical Clinics on Grounds of Nonpayment of Hospital Bills or Medical Expenses

Official Gazette, Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010

Senate of the Philippines, Republic Act 10368: Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013

Disqualification case vs Serge Osmeña on 2019 Elections

ABS-CBN News, Comelec wants ex-Sen. Osmeña ‘perpetually disqualified’ over campaign expenses, Oct. 29, 2018

Philstar, Comelec Campaign Finance Office: ‘Disqualify Serge Osmeña III,’ Oct. 30, 2018

ABS-CBN News Youtube, Headstart: Serge Osmeña confident won’t disqualify him, Nov. 5, 2018

GMA News Online, Disqualification cases vs. Senate bids of Pimentel, Osmeña still unresolved, Jan. 28, 2019

ABS-CBN News, ‘Now candidates’: Comelec dismisses disqualification cases vs Pimentel, Osmeña, Jan. 26, 2019

“Widespread cheating in 2016 Senate elections” — Osmeña

ABS-CBN News, Osmena decries ‘widespread cheating’ in polls, May 19, 2016, Serge Osmeña: I wuz robbed, but …, May 20, 2016

Detained as a Martial Law prisoner

Senate of the Philippines, Senator Sergio R. Osmeña III Biography 13th Congress, Remnants of a dark era, Sept. 22, 2018

Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Office of Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel

Rappler, Senate, House end 1st year with 4 laws passed, June 5, 2017

Official Gazette, Republic Act No. 11032

Official Gazette, Republic Act No. 10969

Official Gazette, Republic Act No. 10931

Official Gazette, Republic Act No. 10928

Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill No. 1533

Rappler, Koko Pimentel: His father’s son, the President’s ‘protector’, March 25, 2017, Senator Koko Pimentel, Dec. 28, 2015, Koko’s wife eyes ‘abuse’ raps, Aug. 14, 2013

ABS-CBN News, Estranged wife accuses Koko Pimentel of non-physical abuse, Aug. 12, 2013

GMA News Online, Wife accuses Koko Pimentel of psychological, economic abuse, Aug. 13, 2013

ABS-CBN News, Koko Pimentel faces fresh disqualification case over senatorial bid, Nov. 8, 2018

CNN Philippines, Comelec junks disqualification cases vs. Pimentel, Feb. 13, 2019

ABS-CBN News, Koko Pimentel proclaimed senator, Aug. 11, 2011

ABS-CBN News, Lobaton camp: Wounds of psycho abuse deeper than physical, Aug. 13, 2013

ABS-CBN News, Koko’s wife breaks down, files for annulment, Sept. 4, 2013, Koko’s wife seeks annulment of marriage, Sept. 6, 2013

Rappler, Koko Pimentel’s wife seeks marriage annulment, Sept. 4, 2013

ABS-CBN News, Koko’s spouse denies she’s a battered wife, March 15, 2013

Manila Bulletin, Change comes to the Senate, Dec. 22, 2016

Rappler, Koko Pimentel, Migz Zubiri: ‘Bitter rivals’ no more, July 25, 2016

ABS-CBN News, Zubiri apologizes, stands by ‘battered wife’ story, March 18, 2013, Pimentel forgives Zubiri over wife-beater issue, March 17, 2013

Grace Poe

Office of Senator Grace Poe, Curriculum Vitae

Office of Senator Grace Poe, GRACE POE’s PLATFORM OF GOVERNMENT, Senator Grace L. Poe


Arroyo presidency

Presidential COC

American citizenship

Manuel “Mar” Roxas

Team Pilipinas, Mar Roxas, Mar Roxas, Profile


  •, Senate Bills 3471 and 104
  •, Senate Bills 1646 and 108
  •, Senate Bills 1658 and 101
  • Official Gazette, RA 8748

News5 official Facebook page, Duterte, tinawag na pikon, madrama, balimbing si Roxas, Feb. 2, 2016


Lacson defends Roxas on Yolanda funds


Cynthia Villar

Office of Sen. Cynthia Villar, Sen. Cynthia Villar CV

UNTV News and Rescue, Get It Straight with Daniel Razon, Senator Cynthia Villar eyes dairy farming and more agri programs if re-elected, Jan. 28, 2019, Cynthia A. Villar, Pondo para sa agrikultura siniguro para sa ACEF, March 6, 2019

Senate of the Philippines, Villar vows to prioritize law allowing coconut farmers to benefit from coco levy funds, Feb. 18, 2019, Cynthia A. Villar, “90 porsyento ng mga Pilipinong magsasaka..,” Feb. 12, 2019

Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill No. 1465

Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill No. 1363

Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill No. 3002

Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill No. 2923

Senate of the Philippines, Senate extends Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), Jan. 18, 2016

Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill No. 2951

Las Pinas City Official Website, Oath-taking Ceremony

Las Pinas City Official Website, Mrs. Aguilar takes on the poll race

Department of Justice, Directory of Officials

House of Representatives, Hon. Aglipay-Villar, Emmeline

CNN Philippines, Duterte gives 25-year franchise to Villar-owned telco, Oct. 24, 2018

Official Gazette, Republic Act 11089

GMA News Online, Five things you didn’t know about Cynthia Villar, April 7, 2014

Senate of the Philippines, Villar vows to help nurses become entrepreneurs, April 24, 2014

Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill No. 725

Twitlonger, @Cynthia_Villar, March 3, 2013

GMA News, Pagsubok ng mga Kandidato: Cynthia Villar, Feb. 25, 2013

Rappler, Villar, Ejercito have offshore accounts, April 5, 2013, Cynthia Villar unfazed by black propaganda, April 10, 2013

Rappler, Cynthia Villar: Beyond Manny’s shadow, May 6, 2013

Rappler, Cynthia Villar slammed over business interests anew, May 31, 2018

Rappler, No conflict of interest in Boracay probe — Villar, March 7, 2018, Cynthia Villar: Boracay closure won’t affect family business, March 7, 2018

GMA News Online, Cynthia Villar admits business interests in Boracay, March 7, 2018

GMA News Online, Mark Villar says family businesses won’t benefit from DPWH post, May 23, 2016

Politiko, Netizens on Mark Villar as DPWH secretary: Why him? May 17, 2016

Public-Private Partnership Center, DPWH post: Can Mark Villar rise above business interests?, May 25, 2016, Cynthia Villar remains richest senator, May 17, 2018, Cynthia Villar, Manny Pacquiao still richest senators, May 18, 2018

BusinessWorld, Villar, Pacquiao richest senator, May 17, 2018

Forbes, #317 Manuel Villar

CNN Philippines, Cynthia Villar denies unli rice ban, June 16, 2017, Cynthia Villar clarifies unli rice remarks, June 16, 2017

ABS-CBN News, Villar: Keep calm, no ‘unli rice’ ban, June 15, 2017

Rappler, After criticisms, Villar clarifies she won’t file bill vs unlimited rice, June 15, 2017, Cynthia A. Villar, April 12, 2019, Cynthia A. Villar, March 7, 2019, Cynthia A. Villar, #MisisHanepBuhay #CynthiaVillar talks about the TESDA-accredited Construction School, March 11, 2019, Cynthia A. Villar, Pangarap ng inyong #MisisHanepBuhay ang magkaroon ng isang farm school, March 18, 2019, Villar group pulls out of race for 3rd telco, Nov. 5, 2018

BusinessWorld, Villar’s Streamtech not vying for 3rd telco slot, Nov. 5, 2018

ABS-CBN News, Villar’s Streamtech backs out of third major telco bid, Nov. 4, 2018, Villars had nothing to do with appointment as PCOO chief, Andanar says, June 8, 2016

PCIJ, SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs, Sept. 22, 2017, Outstanding doctors honored at Mary Mediatrix hospital’s 55th anniversary, Oct. 4, 2013

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 ourmethodology.