FOURTEEN aspiring senators filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) on the first of eight days that the poll body will accept these on Friday at the Sofitel hotel in Pasay City.

HOUSE DEPUTY SPEAKER and Antique Rep. Lorna Regina “Loren” B. Legarda was the first to file for the Senatorial race. She will run under the National People’s Coalition (NPC) party.

Ms. Legarda had previously served in the Senate from 1998 to 2004 and again from 2007 to 2019 where she chaired the finance, foreign relations, economic affairs, environment and climate change committees.

“I believe that with my vast experience as a former majority leader and a senator for three terms, I have been able to craft laws that are helping our people right now. And there is much more I can give our people right now, especially during this pandemic,” she said in a speech after filing her COC.

“Our pandemic recovery should respond to the health needs of our people and on our economic recovery and should be attuned to the climate pathway as we are also dealing with the climate crisis,” she said during the Commission on Elections (Comelec) event. “I am confident that I can do much more to help solve the twin crisis, for the welfare of the Filipino people.”

Ms. Legarda was involved in the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 8749 or the Clean Air Act, RA 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act, RA 10361 or the Kasambahay Law, and RA 10606 or the Universal Healthcare Act, among others.

Lutgardo “Lutz” B. Barbo, a former Senate Secretary and a former Eastern Samar governor, was the first to arrive at the hotel’s Harbour Garden Tent. He is running under the Pimentel group of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party. He said that he would focus his platform on the Anti-dynasty law, and the reformation of the political party system to stop the normalization of turncoatism.

In an impassioned speech, he said that running for public office should not be for self-interest, unlike, he noted, a national official currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court, who he said was “escaping the clutches of law.” “The one who should be held accountable must be held accountable.”

Sorsogon Governor Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero, through his authorized representative and lawyer, George Garcia, filed his COC in hopes of returning to the Senate after his previous term ended in 2019. Running under the NPC, he earlier said that he hopes to help with the country’s pandemic recovery and empower local governments.

Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, under the Akbayan Citizens’ Action party, filed the COC for her reelection bid; her campaign advocacy revolves around a healthy lifestyle and occupation. “Once more, so we can raise the quality of life of every Filipino. Once more, for a convenient, peaceful and complacent home,” she said in Filipino.

Ms. Hontiveros said sickness was prevalent during this time, not only because of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), but also because of the failing economy, the fall of small businesses, abuses by those in power, and corrupt practices. She hoped that even if many opposition leaders run for the elections, a united front will still emerge “to end Dutertismo for a new and better normal.”

Former Pagsanjan, Laguna Mayor Abner Afuang also threw his hat in the ring. Mr. Afuang, who ran in the 2019 midterm elections but lost, expressed deep resentment against the Chinese government during his speech and said that the Philippines had earlier been called the “Province of China.” He noted that he has burned several Chinese flags in protest.

Bay Maylanie S. Esmael, a Bangsamoro Senatorial candidate, said that she wanted to provide for those who have been neglected and to give to those who are lacking. “No senator from Mindanao has run in so long, so I’ll try my best not for myself but for my Muslim compatriots,” she said during her speech.

Norman C. Marquez, who represented animal lovers and enthusiasts, filed a COC as Senator for what he said was the “biggest sector in society.” He noted his slogan which was “animal welfare is human welfare.”

“I will be representing those who don’t have the voice, but they really have the voting power which is the heart of their owners,” he added, noting that if he won, he would harmonize human advocacy with animals and the environment.

Bertito del Mundo, an engineer, also aspires to become a Senator. He aimed to increase the oil reserves in the country to enrich and raise the economy.

Retired policeman Romeo Plasquita, who was declared a nuisance presidential candidate in 2016, filed a COC as Senator for the same advocacy as his previous run — Philippine retirees’ integration. He seeks to “unite” retired private and public workers who have yet to receive their retirement benefits, citing that he himself had to wait nine years.

Samuel S. Sanchez, a businessman who is new to politics, also filed a COC as Senator, aiming to sustain financial help for the poor, raise the economy, strengthen territorial defense, improve the pandemic response, among other goals. He added that if he wins the seat, he would donate half of his salary to charity.

Baldomero Falcone, a business consultant with experience in politics, also filed a COC as Senator under the Democratic Party of the Philippines.

Phil Delos Reyes, a security guard, said that he hoped to continue the president’s programs by fighting against drugs, poverty, corruption, and criminality. He added that he aimed to craft laws that would lower the cost of internet, electricity and water, provide social benefits, and improve prisoner livelihood.

Ziegfred Ryan C. Giron, who quickly left the location, filed a COC as Senator.

Agnes Afable also filed her COC as Senator for the 2022 national and local elections. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan with Russell Louis C. Ku