For the first time, the Philippines had a presidential election under the multiparty system, as opposed to the two-party system which had been in place since 1935. Seven candidates contested the first presidential election following the restoration of democracy in 1986. President Corazon C. Aquino had chosen Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos of the newly minted Lakas ng Tao party as her successor. Challenging Ramos were Senate President Jovito Salonga of the Liberal Party, House Speaker Ramon Mitra of LABAN ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), Agrarian Reform Secretary Miriam Defensor-Santiago of the People’s Reform Party (PRP), Vice President Salvador H. Laurel of the Nacionalista Party (NP), former Ambassador Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), and former First Lady Imelda Marcos of her husband’s Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).
Traditional geopolitical considerations resurfaced, with the presidential and vice presidential candidates hailing from different regions of the country. Ramos chose Governor Emilio “Lito” Osmeña from Cebu as his running mate while Mitra recruited Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan, also from Cebu; Defensor- Santiago, a native of Iloilo, was joined by former Congressman Ramon Magsaysay Jr. of Zambales; Salonga entered into an alliance with former Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Aquilino Pimentel Jr. from Cagayan de Oro, who headed PDP-LABAN; Marcos, who grew up in Leyte, ran in tandem with Zambales Governor Vicente “Vic” Magsaysay.
Two candidates took exception. Laurel picked former Senator Eva Estrada-Kalaw, his erstwhile foe in the vice presidential race of 1986, to form a solid Batangueño ticket. It is widely known, however, that the vice president had originally intended to run with former Senator Rodolfo Ganzon of Iloilo. For his part, Cojuangco partnered with then Senator Joseph Ejercito Estrada, a former matinee idol with nationwide appeal, the eventual winner by a landslide.
Ramos won the election with the smallest plurality in Philippine electoral history with only 23% of the vote, followed by Defensor-Santiago with 19%, Cojuangco 18%, and Mitra 14%. Candidates of the three older parties—KBL, LP, and NP—finished last with Marcos and Salonga each getting a little over 10% and Laurel a distant 3.4%
In the Senate, LDP dominated, with 16 of its bets making it to the 24 vacant seats. The rest of the slots were won by NPC (5), Lakas (2), and LP-PDP-LABAN (1).
The 12 senators with the highest number of votes would serve a full six-year term until 1998, while the remaining 12 senators would serve only until 1995. Thereafter, senators would be elected on a staggered basis of 12 every three years.
The Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) has published the Philippine Electoral Almanac, a handy resource on Philippine national elections from 1935 onwards.