Sotto as Senate president? Reorganization looms ahead of Duterte's SONA
MANILA, Philippines – A draft resolution signed by majority of the senators circulated on Thursday, May 17, supporting a reorganization in the chamber that would install Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III as the new Senate president.
One of the 14 signatories confirmed the authenticity of the document, even as Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III denied there are efforts to replace him.
Early on in the 17th Congress, Pimentel and Sotto were known to have agreed to a term-sharing agreement. Two well-placed sources told Rappler that Pimentel was set to give up his post in favor of Sotto so he could focus on his re-election bid. Pimentel indirectly confirmed this in an interview with Rappler in August 2017.
But now that his part in the supposed shared term is up, Pimentel denied having a deal with Sotto. Senator Panfilo Lacson, who publicly mentioned the supposed deal in a press conference, even had to apologize after Pimentel denied it. (READ: Senate President Tito Sotto? Likely this year, says Lacson)
The 14 senators who supposedly signed the resolution were:
- Juan Edgardo Angara
- Nancy Binay
- Joseph Victor Ejercito
- Francis Escudero
- Sherwin Gatchalian
- Richard Gordon
- Gregorio Honasan II
- Panfilo Lacson
- Loren Legarda
- Manny Pacquiao
- Ralph Recto
- Joel Villanueva
- Cynthia Villar
- Juan Miguel Zubiri
Our sources said Zubiri will replace Sotto as majority leader. The senator from Bukidnon had held the same post before resigning in 2011.
Asked about the leaked document, Pimentel said: "Pag-usapan sa (We'll talk about it) Monday, assuming that is true."
Pimentel to stay with the majority
While Senate presidents who are removed from the post usually transfer to the minority bloc, Pimentel is not expected to do that, as he is the president of the ruling PDP-Laban, President Rodrigo Duterte's party.
A reorganization of committees also usually follows a change in the Senate leadership, but in this case not much change is expected – at least for now. Senators are cramming to pass key legislations, such as the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Pimentel’s supposed impending ouster does not come as a surprise. Aside from talks of a term-sharing deal with Sotto, he has no solid bloc in the chamber. In fact, he became Senate president because the blocs of Sotto and now Minority Leader Franklin Drilon decided to support him in 2016.
Pimentel has only one party mate in the chamber, Senator Manny Pacquiao – who, incidentally, was among those who signed the resolution supporting Sotto.
Senate would go on recess starting June, and will open the 3rd regular session in late July, in time for President Duterte’s 3rd State of the Nation Address. – Rappler.com