LP sticking with Senate majority after Robredo resignation
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Liberal Party senators are keen on staying with the majority bloc in the Senate, even after the resignation of Vice President Leni Robredo from the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The LP has 4 members in the chamber: Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon, and Senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, and Leila de Lima.
Pangilinan and Aquino said the group is sticking it out with the majority, as long as they are allowed to continue practicing their “independence.” (READ: LP to bolt Senate, House majority after Robredo resignation?)
“The Senate’s very independent these days – per issue iba-iba ang kasama (you're with a different group per issue). In fact sa issue ng (in the issue of the) Libingan ng mga Bayani, the Senate President voted with us. As long as we’re able to keep that independence, we'll probably stay with the majority here,” Aquino told reporters on Tuesday, December 6.
Pimentel sided with the LP against the hero’s burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Pimentel is the partymate of Duterte, who backed the controversial burial.
Pangilinan, acting president of the party, however, said they are still considering other possibilities.
“So at this point status quo pero tignan natin. Malay natin next week iba na ihip ng hangin (but let's see. Who knows maybe next week the direction of the wind would be different?)" he told Rappler in an interview.
He earlier told Rappler he would hold consultations with party members from the Senate, House, and local governments until Wednesday.
Pangilinan said even if LP is with the majority bloc in the chamber, that has not stopped them from being critical of the administration. That, he said, is what they intend to continue.
“Kahit naman nasa majority kami hindi kami tumigil bumatikos pag kinakailangan e.
Even as we stay in the coalition at this stage, 'di naman tayo titigil sa pagtutol sa mga bagay na di tayo sumasangayon,” he said.
(Even if we are in the majority, we have not stopped criticizing the administration when needed. Even as we stay in the coalition at this stage, we are not stopping from blocking policies and things that we oppose.)
Senate scenario different from House
LP lawmakers belonging to the independent minority bloc have also urged their majority counterparts in the House to leave the coalition with the ruling PDP-Laban, saying Malacañang’s treatment of Robredo was a “serious affront” to the party.
But for Aquino, the situation in the House of Representatives is different from the Senate. Unlike the case in House, the division between the minority and the majority in the Senate is not clear-cut.
“Kung tutuusin naman (In reality), the majority-minority division it’s not as strict as followed in the House. Tingin namin (The way we see it), as long as we're able to push reforms, case per case and see kung sino and alliances on a case per case, we’ll stick it out with the majority,” he said.
He added the alliances in the Senate depend on the issue and not solely on parties and political affiliations.
“Well, I think our status will probably be retained. Nakikita 'nyo naman iba sitwasyon dito sa Senado (As you can see, the situation is different in the Senate), we're allowed to tackle issue separately. As long as it's kept, well have the status quo,” he said.
As members of the Senate majority bloc, LP lawmakers hold key positions in the chamber. Drilon is the 2nd highest Senate official and is an ex-officio member of all standing committees in the chamber and in the powerful Commission on Appointments.
The others are chairpersons of major committees, which are part of their key advocacies: Aquino for the committees on education and science and technology; Pangilinan for agriculture; and De Lima for electoral reforms.
Another senator allied with the once-ruling LP is Senator Risa Hontiveros, who is the chairperson of the committees on health and demography and women, children, family relations, and gender equality. – Rappler.com