Senate topnotcher Villar to pursue advocacy over higher office

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 22 2019 11:24 AM

Senator Cynthia Villar takes the stage during a campaign sortie in Barangay Bagong Silang in Caloocan on May 3, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Reelected Sen. Cynthia Villar topped the May 2019 midterm elections, garnering 25,283,727 votes over second placer Sen. Grace Poe. 

The 68-year-old, who placed 10th in the 2013 senatorial election, earlier said she will focus on her entrepreneurship and environmental advocacies in her second term instead of pursuing higher office. She noted that those who topped past senatorial elections failed in their respective bids for higher office. She did not give names.

Poe, who was second to Villar this year after a first-place finish in 2013, lost to President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. Sen. Mar Roxas, the 2004 topnotcher, also lost in the 2016 presidential contest and failed in his Senate comeback bid this year.

Sen. Loren Legarda, who led the 1998 and 2007 senatorial elections, failed in 2 vice presidential bids, in 2004 and in 2010. She won Antique province's lone seat in the House of Representatives in last Monday's vote.

"I’m really convinced you can work hard, makukuha mo sa sipag at tyaga ang pagiging senador pero ang pagiging presidente is destiny," Villar told DZMM radio.

(I'm really convinced you can work hard and win as Senator through hardwork and patience but the presidency is destiny.)

Villar earlier told ABS-CBN News that she was leaving the 2022 general elections, where she is eligible to run for president, to "destiny." Her husband, former Senate President Manny Villar, lost to President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III in 2010.

Despite consistently leading pre-election surveys, the lawmaker said she did not expect to top this year's senatorial race. 

The senator from the small city of Las Piñas was the top choice in what political strategists call Lingayen-Lucena corridor, which has many vote-rich provinces such as Pangasinan in north Luzon to provinces south of the capital such as Quezon. She also won in the Visayas region and was third in Mindanao. 

Villar ran under the Nacionalista Party (NP) and was endorsed by the ruling party PDP-Laban, Sara Duterte's regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, and religious groups El Shaddai and Iglesia ni Cristo, among others. 

She also said she would likely decline a possible Senate presidency, a "management job" which might not be her "calling."

Villar said her "Mrs. Hanepbuhay" campaign slogan resonated with voters, especially farmers.

Prior to joining politics, Villar founded Vista Land with her husband, who is currently the richest man in the country with an estimated net worth of $5.5 billion, according to Forbes.

She was the richest senator in 2017 with a net worth of P3.6 billion based on her Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN.