Duterte's Senate bets dominate 2019 midterm elections

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 22) — Eight of President Rodrigo Duterte’s anointed candidates are heading to the Senate.

The Commission on Elections on Wednesday proclaimed mostly administration allies as winners in the senatorial race. Their terms will last until June 30, 2025. The 12 Senate winners are led by staunch Duterte ally Senator Cynthia Villar with 25,283,727 votes.

Read: Cynthia Villar not eyeing presidency

This leaves only four opposition senators against 20 in the Senate majority bloc in the 18th Congress.

In the final count, Villar is followed by Senator Grace Poe, with 22,029,788 votes. Poe is the lone independent bet to win a seat in the upper chamber.

Senators-elect Christopher “Bong” Go, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino, who all served as appointees of Duterte, were also proclaimed, taking the third, fifth and ninth slots, respectively, in the so-called Magic 12.

Related: Despite indebtedness to Duterte, ally won’t be a rubber stamp

Former Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who heads the ruling party PDP-Laban, took the 10th place.

Senators-elect Pia Cayetano, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Imee Marcos, and Ramon Bong Revilla were also declared winners. All four were endorsed by Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the regional party of presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

Aside from Poe, the only other senators-elect who ran without the blessing of either the President or his daughter, are Lito Lapid and Nancy Binay.

Voters rejected the opposition coalition Otso Diretso, with its highest-ranking bet, outgoing Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, placing 14th in the senatorial race. With the terms of Aquino and firebrand opposition senator Antonio Trillanes IV ending next month, the Senate minority bloc will shrink to just four members.

Related: Otso Diretso accepts defeat

This is the worst turnout for the opposition since 1947, when then pro-administration candidates swept the elections for the legislature.

Malacañang called its May 13 victory in the Senate race a signal that voters do not want an “obstructionist” Senate and prefer the institution to support Duterte’s legislative agenda.

Concern about the independence of the upper chamber has been raised, but both sitting senators and senators-elect have sought to downplay this.

Related: Senate will remain independent, even if only administration bets win – Pimentel

Days ahead of the proclamation, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III declared that the bill reviving the death penalty, which is strongly backed by Duterte, may be passed in the next Senate where many are in favor of capital punishment.

The administration’s remaining bills on tax reform and the shift to federalism are also seen to clear a Senate dominated by Duterte allies.

The winning party-list groups will be proclaimed on Wednesday afternoon.