Mocha Uson, Harry Roque to run for Senate in 2019 — House Speaker

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 17) — Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque are joining the 2019 senatorial race.

Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman, Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles, Negros Occidental Representative Albee Benitez, and Presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino also join the senatorial line-up.

Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) Secretary-General and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Friday the three are on the party's list of candidates for the Senate.

He made the announcement at the oath-taking of new members of the PDP-Laban at the Plaza Independencia in Cebu.

PDP-Laban president Senator Koko Pimentel, however, denied that Alvarez's announcement was official.

"No party decision yet. You can consider them as Speaker's nominees. Party will decide in due time," Pimentel said.

Uson, on her Facebook page, said she was surprised by the declaration, saying she attended the gathering without any political intention.

She also clarified she did not partake in the PDP-Laban oath-taking.

"Nagulat po ako nang sinasabi nila na inanunsyo raw po ni Speaker Alvarez na ako ay tatakbo bilang Senador. Hindi ko po ito alam at hindi namin ito pinag-usapan," Uson said.

[Translation: I was surprised when Speaker Alvarez announced that I was running as Senator. I don't know anything about this and we did not talk about it.]

Uson added while she has no plans of running for the Senate, she's open to the idea.

"Kung tatakbo man po ako, eto po ay dahil si Pangulong Duterte na mismo ang nagpatakbo sa akin," she said. "'Yan ay dahil sa ang akin lamang hangarin ay matulungan ang Duterte Administration na pagsilbihan ang bayan."

[Translation: If ever I do run, it will be because President Duterte himselfs asks me to. This is because my only objective is to help the Duterte administration serve the people.]

Before she was appointed assistant secretary for social media of the Presidential Communications Office, Uson was a member of the dance group Mocha Girls.

A staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, she has been under fire for allegedly sharing fake news, outdated stories, and inaccurate photos on her Facebook page.

Roque, meanwhile, said his current priority is "to be the best spokesman that I can be for the president."

He added he has no means of pursuing a senatorial bid in 2019.

Roque left his post as representative of Kabayan Party-list when he was appointed Presidential Spokesperson in October.

Roman, the first transgender congresswoman, is one of the authors of the Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) Equality Act, or House Bill 4982.

Nograles is the current chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, and is the son of Duterte's former political rival in Davao Prospero Nograles.

Benitez, the convenor of the Visayan bloc of the House of Representatives, currently heads the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development.

Tolentino, who earlier ran for the Senate in 2016 and lost, was the former chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.