MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—The biggest names in Philippine politics, led by President Rodrigo Duterte, gathered Monday evening as the administration-backed slate Hugpong ng Pagbabago threw a thanksgiving party following its big victory in the recently held senatorial elections.
Nine of HNP’s 13 senatorial candidates, campaigned for heavily by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, won the midterm polls, guaranteeing a friendlier upper chamber of Congress for the President and potentially boosting his daughter’s chances of winning the presidential race in 2022.
Duterte-Carpio thanked the attendees of Monday evening’s party and urged them to “let loose and out our hair down.”
“Kayong lahat po ang reason kung bakit nanalo ang majority sa mga senators na tinulungan ng HNP,” Duterte-Carpio said as welcomed the party’s guests.
“Hindi naman magawa iyon kung hindi dahil sa tulong ninyong lahat. This is a night of—sabi namin sa invitations—no wins or loses, no rivalries or work, just songs and refreshments, nothing serious.”
The President and his daughter led the singing during the event. The President sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" for his daughter, which host Giselle Sanchez said was appropriate because the chief executive’s daughter is the wind beneath his wings.
Duterte then dedicated “Ikaw” to Duterte-Carpio's mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman. He capped the song with the words, “I love you Elizabeth Zimmerman.”
He also sang "MacArthur's Park," while Duterte-Carpio sang "Bed of Roses."
Duterte’s presence at the HNP event was his first ever, as he did not attend the regional party’s miting de avance in Davao City last May 9.
He also campaigned separately for the 5 senatorial bets of his party, PDP-Laban, who all happened to belong to HNP.
Reelected senators Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, as well as senators-elect Christopher “Bong” Go, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Francis Tolentino, Imee Marcos, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Pia Cayetano were present during Monday evening’s gathering.
Losing HNP candidates, Maguindaano Rep. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu and former journalist Jiggy Manicad, also attended the event.
Three of the aspirants for the speakership of the House of Representatives in the 18th Congress were also present in the thanksgiving party.
Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Leyte Rep. Elect Martin Romualdez and Taguig Pateros Rep. Elect Alan Peter Cayetano all attended the party as supporters and hosts of HNP rallies in their respective bailiwicks.
"President keeping his cards close to his chest," Angara wrote on Instagram, in which Duterte can be seen talking with the lawmakers aspiring for the House speakership.—with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News