TOP 1 SENATOR. Comelec chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan raises the hands of top winning senator Robin Padilla during the proclamation of Magic 12 senators at the PICC, Pasay City on Wednesday (May 18, 2022). Padilla regarded his win as a symbol of unity between Muslims and Christians. (Photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – Senator-elect Robin Padilla earned the Filipinos’ trust as he topped the recently concluded May 9 senatorial race.

Padilla, an actor-turned-politician, was among the 12 senators proclaimed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, on Wednesday.

Padilla garnered 26,612,434, the most numbers of votes among 63 candidates who ran for senator in the recent polls, based on the latest partial and official vote count by the Comelec-NVOC.

Padilla thanked the military, police, and teachers as well as the Comelec for doing their best to secure a clean, honest and peaceful election in the country.

“Isa pong karangalan para sa akin na mapabilang sa isang halalan na nagpapakita ng isang napakalinis na halalan (It is an honor for me to become part of a very clean elections),” he said.

He also thanked the Muslim and Christian communities for his victory in the election, regarding it as a symbol of unity between the two religions.

Padilla is the first Filipino Muslim who became a senator after 30 years, following former senator Santanina Tillah Rasul of Sulu, who has held a senatorial post until 1992.

During the campaign period, Padilla was adamant to encourage the public to give Muslim Filipinos a representation in the upper Congress.

“At inyo pong binigyan ng pagkakataon ang inyong mga kapatid (And you provide an opportunity to you brothers and sisters),” Padilla said, as he thanked the Roman Catholic church and other Christian believers.

“Lahat po kayo, ipinakita niyo ang pagbubuklod nating mga Pilipino at inyo pong itinaas ang mga kapatid ninyong Muslim sa matagal nang panahon ay humihingi ng pansin (All of you, you showed the meaning of unity among Filipinos and you have raised your Muslim brothers and sisters that longing for attention for a long time),” he added.

Padilla urged the newly elected and incumbent senators to give a chance for government reforms and constitutional reforms.

The crowd cheered the newly elected senator as he ended his speech with a line culled from Eric Clapton’s classic song, “Wonderful Tonight.”

“It’s late in the evening, I feel wonderful tonight,” said Padilla, who has been singing the song in the series of campaign sorties that he joined.

Part of the Comelec’s tradition during the proclamation is to introduce the top winning senatorial candidate.

Thus, Comelec Chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan shared a few things about Padilla who got the highest votes in the May 9 senatorial race.

“This is an overwhelming testament to the trust and confidence that the Filipino voters have reposed in him. His political career has only begun but his interest and knowledge in politics has long been established,” Pangarungan said, adding that Padilla has been a strong proponent of social justice and good governance prior to entering politics.

Pangarungan cited Padilla’s involvement in the country's legislation by lobbying the passage of security of tenures for the contractual workers and pushing the "restructuring of the government for the benefit of the people.”

“As an incoming senator, he has expressed this desire to improve the wages of employees, specifically teachers and healthcare workers,” he said, noting that Padilla’s measure will undoubtedly be beneficial to the Filipinos.

“These measures will undoubtedly benefit the working class, common Filipinos that uphold their faith in the hands of someone who recognizes their struggles. As a Muslim brother, we share common advocacy for safeguarding the welfare of every Filipino including the underprivileged and the marginalized in our Muslim population. I am proud that prior to entering politics, he is always ready to provide much-needed help to the sector as vulnerable as ours,” Pangarungan added.

Pangarungan cited that Padilla has established a pre-school foundation for underprivileged Muslim children in Quezon City and has been relentless in pushing many efforts that uplift the lives of Muslim Filipinos.

“Getting the top spot in the senatorial race is a proof that one is not defined by their past performances or circumstances,” Pangarungan said, as he welcomed the new senator on stage by his Islamic name, Abdulaziz.

Padilla ran as a senator under the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and a guest senator in the Marcos-Duterte Uniteam line-up.

Both President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, presumptive vice-president, Sara Duterte have extensively endorsed Padilla during the elections. (PNA)