Who to Vote For? Get To Know the Political Parties in the Philippines
The midterm elections are fast approaching.
In order to make an informed decision, it is important to take a good look at what the candidates are promising their constituents, as well as the principles they hold.
Most of our candidates run under a political party, which helps them advance their causes and build their campaigns. Ideally, these parties should align with the candidates’ ideologies so that the proper programs and platforms are created for the electorate.
Sadly, this is not entirely the case in Philippine politics. Unlike in the United States where only two major and clearly distinctive political parties exist, the Philippines have about a hundred.
Joy Aceron, an academic from the Ateneo De Manila University, said the functions of political parties should include the proper selection of candidates and leadership training for them, and setting the agenda and sparking interest among the people.
“But in the Philippines, parties can be best described as ‘temporary political alliances.’ Some would even go to the extent of saying there are no real parties in the country and what we have
And she’s right. The party-switching or the so-called "political
“One major factor that makes our political parties weak is the dependence of political parties on personalities rather than on issues and political platforms. Traditional politicians only use Political Parties as financial vehicles to win elections,” the Office of the Ombudsman wrote in a primer they made for the Political Party Development Act, which is still pending in the Congress.
There are about 169 political parties listed and accredited by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on its official website. These include all the major and minor parties, both on the national and local scope, as well as party lists.
Due to constraints, we only listed down the nine major political parties recognized by the Comelec for the 2016 national elections, and the candidates they endorse for the 2019 midterm elections. This includes two dominant parties and seven other major political parties.
Liberal Party (LP)
The Liberal Party is the second oldest existing political party in the country following the Nacionalista Party (No. 3 on this list). Its founder, former Senate President Manuel Roxas, formed the party in 1945 right after the country’s liberation from the Japanese occupation.
Before the LP’s creation, Roxas was first responsible for establishing a liberal wing of the Nacionalista Party, which is why the LP is also seen as a breakaway faction of the NP. Historically, the party’s political position has tended to be in the center to center-left. It promotes social liberalism.
The Comelec identified the LP as the dominant majority party for the 2016 elections. Today, it currently holds five Senate seats and 46 seats in the House of Representatives. It is chaired by Vice President Leni Robredo and has Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as its president. It is also known as the opposition block today.
*2019 senatorial candidates: The ‘Otso Diretso’ - Gary Alejano, Bam Aquino, Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Mar Roxas, and Erin Tañada.
*Non-member candidates they endorse: Florin Hilbay, Romy Macalintal
United Nationalist Alliance (UNA)
UNA may be the youngest political party on this list, but it was recognized by the Comelec as the dominant minority party for the 2016 elections.
Officially founded as a political party in 2015 by former Vice President Jejomar Binay, it sprung from the United Opposition (UNO) coalition that was formed in 2005 for the 2007 midterm elections.
The party leans toward center-right and practices rather conservative politics. It holds two seats in the Upper House and three in the Lower Chamber. It is currently chaired by Binay’s daughter, Senator Nancy Binay.
*2019 senatorial candidates: Nancy Binay, Danilo Roleda
Nacionalista Party (NP)
The Nacionalista Party is the oldest existing political party in the country and in Southeast Asia. It was founded in April 1907 by former presidents Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña and was formed to support the liberalization of the Philippines from the American rule.
The NP is a largely right-wing political party with conservative ideologies, somewhat similar to the US’ Republican Party. Today, the party holds four Senate seats and 29 seats in the House of Representatives. It is currently chaired by former Senate President Manuel “Manny” Villar.
*2019 senatorial candidates: Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano, Imee Marcos
Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC)
Filipino businessman and then-presidential candidate Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. founded the NPC in 1992. Since its first members came from the Nacionalista Party, the two parties share a lot in common when it comes to ideologies and political leanings.
Like the NP, the NPC also promotes conservatism and positions itself at the center-right of the political spectrum. It currently holds three seats in the Senate and 33 seats in the House of Representatives.
*2019 senatorial candidates: Lito Lapid, JV Ejercito
Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban)
Fact: This party endorsed the presidential campaign of Rodrigo Duterte.
Another fact: It also nominated former President Corazon Aquino as its candidate for the 1986 snap elections.
PDP-Laban was established through a merger between the parties Partido Demokratiko Pilipino and Lakas ng Bayan (founded by former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.) in 1983, led by former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel. Its creation was to overthrow the Marcos administration.
The party’s inherent ideologies lie in democratic socialism. These days, however, it is also mixed with populism and federalism.
It is also currently the ruling political party in the country. The party holds three upper house seats and 114 lower house seats. Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel serves as its president.
*2019 senatorial candidates: Koko Pimentel, Bato Dela Rosa, Zajid Mangudadatu, Bong Go, Francis Tolentino
Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL)
Largely a pro-Marcos party, the KBL was founded in 1978 and was reorganized again in 1986 after the Martial Law. It was formed by pro-Marcos supporters who came from the Nacionalista and Liberal parties. As such, the party supports authoritarianism.
The party currently doesn’t have any representatives in both chambers of the Congress.
*2019 senatorial candidate: Larry
Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD)
The Lakas-CMD that we know now was founded in 2008. It is one of the only two parties on this list that is influenced by religion (the other is NUP).
Its roots trace back to the merger of the original Lakas-CMD, which was founded in 1991, and Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (KAMPI). It is in the center-right of the political spectrum and promotes conservatism, Christian democracy, and Islamic democracy as its core ideologies.
They only hold four seats in the lower chamber today. Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. serves as its chairman.
*2019 senatorial candidates: Willie Ong, Ramon Revilla Jr.
Much like the other parties mentioned in this list, Aksyon Demokratiko’s roots came from an older party. In this case, it was the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.
Aksyon Demokratiko was founded in 1997 by former senator Raul Roco. It identifies itself as a progressive political party, forwarding progressivism and liberal democracy. It aligns itself in the center-left of the political spectrum.
*2019 senatorial candidates: Florin Hilbay
**Non-member candidates they endorse: the rest of ‘Otso-Diretso’, Lito Lapid
National Unity Party (NUP)
Founded in 2011, the NUP is a breakaway party from the Lakas Kampi CMD. The party advances social conservatism and Christian democracy as its core ideologies. Its politics tend to lean towards the center to center-right.
The party does not hold any seat in the Senate, but it has 21 representatives in the lower house. It is currently chaired by Ronaldo Puno.
*2019 senatorial candidates: None.