Editor's Pick FACT CHECK News PHL Vote 2019

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

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 5 of the series covers seven candidates — businessman Luther Meniano, doctor Willie Ong, lawyer Dado Padilla, former Sulu 2nd district Representative Lady Ann Sahidulla, former Quezon Province 4th district Representative Erin Tañada, ex-political adviser to the president Francis Tolentino, and former Education Undersecretary Butch Valdes.

Here are some facts you need to know:

Luther “Lot” Meniano, businessman

“Doc” Willie Ong, former DOH Consultant

Diosdado “Dado” Padilla, former TESDA Deputy Director General

Nur-Ana “Lady Ann” Sahidulla, former 2nd District of Sulu Representative

Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, former Quezon 4th District Representative

Francis Tolentino, former Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs

Antonio “Butch” Valdes, former Education Undersecretary


Luther “Lot” Meniano

Luther Meniano, Curriculum Vitae

Commission on Elections, Luther Meniano Certificate of Candidacy

Personal Facebook Account, Luther Meniano

GreenPhil Aqua-Culture and Hydroponics Website, Message of the President/CEO

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

ABS-CBN News Youtube, DZMM Teleradyo: SINO KA BA? – Luther Maniano, nagpakilala sa ‘DZMM Ikaw Na Ba?’ Feb. 12, 2019

ABS-CBN News Youtube, DZMM TeleRadyo: ISYU, IT’S YOU – Bernard Austria, Jonathan Baldevarona at Luther Maniano, Feb. 12, 2019

ABS-CBN News Youtube, DZMM Teleradyo: KONTRA-BERSYA – Austria, Baldevarona at Maniano sa mga usapin sa kanila, Feb.12, 2019

News5Everywhere Youtube, Luther Meniano, March 27, 2019

Permanent Court of Arbitration, The South China Sea Arbitration, July 12, 2016

Official Gazette, Executive Order No. 2 “Freedom of Information,” July 23, 2016

“Doc” Willie Ong

Commission on Elections, Willie Ong Certificate of Candidacy

Official Facebook Page, Doc Willie Ong

Personal Facebook Account, Willie T. Ong

ABS-CBN News Youtube, Harapan 2019: The Senatorial Town Hall Debate, Feb. 17, 2019 Youtube, Dr. Willie Ong files COC for Senate bid, Oct. 10, 2018

Esquire Mag Website, “We should uplift the conversation. Should I change myself in order to please them to get the votes?”-Dr. Willie Ong, Senatorial Candidate, March 19, 2019

Philstar, Doc Willie: Health sector needs voice in Senate, March 16, 2019

GMA Public Affairs Youtube, Investigative Documentaries: Doc Willie Ong, tututukan ang problemang pangkalusugan ng mga Pilipino, March 29, 2019

Rappler, Dr Willie Ong runs for senator, banks on ‘10M FB followers’, Oct. 11, 2018

ABS-CBN News, Online star Willie Ong expects 5M votes from social media followers, March 6, 2019

GMA News Online, Pasay medical museum shows how epidemics shaped history, Oct. 8, 2012

Official Facebook Page, Co Tec Tai Medical Museum

Philstar, Bisitahin ang unang medical museum sa Pilipinas, Sept. 3, 2009

Health and Lifestyle, Dr. Willie T. Ong

Manila Bulletin, The Social (Media) Doctor, March 24, 2019

ABS-CBN News, Dr. Willie Ong finds Universal Health Care bill wanting, Nov. 29, 2018

Diosdado “Dado” Padilla

Dado Padilla Campaign Team, Curriculum Vitae

Commission on Elections, Dado Padilla Certificate of Candidacy

Official Facebook Page, Atty. Dado Ortiz Padilla for Senator

Official Website, Atty. Dado Padilla

Official Facebook Page, MRRD NECC

Official Facebook Page, Partido Federal ng Pilipinas

Nur-Ana “Lady Ann” Sahidulla

DZMMTeleradyo, “Sahidulla: I am the princess of the poorest of the poor, ng masa…,” Dec. 11, 2018

CNN Philippines YouTube channel, “The Filipino Votes: Senatorial Forum Part 6,” March 24, 2019

GMA Public Affairs YouTube channel, “Kahirapan at mataas na singil sa kuryente, sosolusyonan ni Princess Lady Ann Sahidulla,” March 29, 2019

House of Representatives website, “House Bills@DOWNLOADS Center,” n.d.

Official website of Congresswoman Lady Ann Sahidulla, “About Lady Ann,” n.d.

ICRC hostage

ABS-CBN News online, “Sulu vice-gov ready for probe on P50K for Abus,” July 20, 2009

GMA News Online, “DND chief, senator seek probe of Sulu exec’s role in ICRC kidnapping,” July 16, 2009, “DOJ: Let PNP probe Sahidulla on ‘goodwill money,’” July 18, 2009, “Teodoro wants Sulu vice governor probed,” July 17, 2009

Senate of the Philippines website, “No need to investigate Sulu Vice Gov Sahidulla,” July 19, 2009

Senate of the Philippines website, “Statement of Sen. Pimentel on probe of Sulu Vice Governor Lady Anne Sahidulla,” July 19, 2009

Senate of the Philippines website, “Statement of Senator Richard Gordon regarding Proposal to Sulu Vice Gov. Lady Anne Sahidulla,” July 17, 2009

Misdeclared SALN

ABS-CBN News, “Ex-Sulu lawmaker on misdeclared SALN case: I was politicized,” Dec. 11, 2018

Ombudsman of the Philippines website, “Ombudsman indicts ex-Sulu officials for SALN violation,” Dec. 14, 2017

People of the Philippines v. Nur-Ana Indanan Sahidulla and Abdulwahid Omar Sahidulla, SB-18-CRM-0381 & SB-18-CRM-0382

SunStar Philippines, “2 ex-Sulu execs face charges,” Dec. 17, 2019

Ces Drilon release

ABS-CBN News online, “Emissary: Ces Drilon cried for help,” June 13, 2009, “DOJ: Let PNP probe Sahidulla on ‘goodwill money,’” July 18, 2009

Senate of the Philippines website, “REVILLA STATEMENT ON CES DRILON RELEASE,” June 18, 2008

Citizen National Guard

Citizen National Guard official Facebook Page, “About,” n.d.

Citizen National Guard website, “Who We Are,” n.d.

VERA Files, “Why the Citizen National Guard should be taken seriously,” Oct. 8, 2017

Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III;=tanadañada/foi-passage-not-dependent-on-palace-okay-tañada/272187992797799/?__tn__=-Rñada/erin-tañadas-statement-on-the-2013-senate-run/537825666234029/?__tn__=-Rñada/foi-passage-not-dependent-on-palace-okay-tañada/272187992797799/?__tn__=-Rñada/tañada-ang-taong-bukas-di-takot-sa-batas-panahon-na-ng-foi/480875381929058/?__tn__=-R

Laws, Bills, House Bill 5070

Francis Tolentino

Office of Atty. Francis Tolentino, Curriculum Vitae of Atty. Francis N. Tolentino, Official Website of Atty. Francis Tolentino

House of Representatives, Hon. Tolentino, Abraham

ABS-CBN News, From one dynasty to another, March 14, 2013, MW Abraham N. Tolentino

Department of Interior and Local Government Calabarzon, Tagaytay City

Official Website of Tagaytay City, Local Officials, MMDA chief denies family building dynasty in Cavite, May 15. 2013

World Cities Summit, Atty. Francis N. Tolentino, Tolentino quits MMDA over Playgirls scandal but won’t quit Senate race, Oct. 7, 2015, MMDA Chair Tolentino sued for misconduct over Playgirls show, Oct. 7, 2015

GMA News Online, PNoy: Francis Tolentino has withdrawn from admin Senate slate, Oct. 7, 2015, Tolentino: Forgive me for not stopping Playgirls number, Oct. 7, 2015, Tolentino faces complaint before Ombudsman over Playgirls dance, Oct. 7, 2015

GMA News Online, Complaint filed vs. MMDA chair Tolentino over Playgirls performance, Oct. 7, 2015

ABS-CBN News, ASEAN leaders to get taste of Filipino fiesta in dinner with Duterte, April 27, 2017

Office of the President, Updated Directory of Officials and Key Positions in the Office of the President-Proper, Dec. 27, 2018, New MMDA chief faces plunder, graft, other charges, Aug. 4, 2010

ABS-CBN News, MMDA chair says plunder case ‘black propaganda’, Aug. 3, 2010

Sunstar, MMDA chief chides plunder raps, Aug. 3, 2010

ABS-CBN News, Anti-graft group asks Ombudsman to suspend MMDA chief, Aug. 4, 2010

GMA News Online, Aquino standing by MMDA chair despite graft charges, Aug. 3, 2010

Senate Electoral Tribunal, SET Case No. 001-16 (Tolentino vs. de Lima): SET releases Resolutions 16-141 and 16-142, Feb. 27, 2019

Senate of the Philippines, De Lima: SET terminates Tolentino’s electoral protest, releases recount results, April 11, 2019

Inquirer Lifestyle, The man most everyone loves to hate, Oct. 6, 2013

Manila Standard, Tolentino heads back to Tagaytay, March 7, 2014, EDSA 32: Politicians who got their start after the 1986 uprising, Feb. 23m 2016

Antonio “Butch” Valdes

GMA Public Affairs YouTube channel, “Investigative Documentaries: Nagtulak kay Butch Valdes para tumakbong senador, alamin,” Feb. 22, 2019

Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino YouTube channel, “#KDP Senator Butch Valdes sa Thinking Pinoy #SenatorialGisahan1on1,” Feb. 25, 2019

News5Everywhere YouTube channel, “APLIKANTE SA SENADO – BUTCH VALDES,” Feb. 28, 2019

One News PH YouTube channel, “Butch Valdes’ legislative agenda,” Jan. 31, 2019


LaRouche PAC Live YouTube channel, “Global Warming’ is Population Reduction, Not Science,” Oct. 21, 2018

LaRouche PAC website, “LaRouche: “A Four-Power Agreement Can Create a New World Credit System,” n.d.

Philippine LaRouche Society Facebook page, “About,” n.d.

Save the Nation Movement

Save the Nation Movement (Philippines) Facebook page, “About,” n.d.

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.