14 senators sign ‘vote of confidence’ resolution for Sotto’s leadership in next Congress

Camille Elemia
(UPDATED) Senator Cynthia Villar, who is reportedly replacing Senate President Vicente Sotto III, is not among the signatories of the draft resolution

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE. At least 13 senators sign a resolution expressing support for the continued leadership of Senate President Vicente Sotto III in the 18th Congress. File photo by Joseph Vidal/PRIB

MANILA, Philippines 0UPDATED) – At least 14 senators signed the draft resolution expressing support for the leadership of Senate President Vicente Sotto III amid rumors of a coup plot in the incoming 18th Congress.

Senator Manny Pacquiao on Monday, June 3, declared support for Sotto and mentioned the draft resolution in his brief manifestation in plenary.

The measure, which Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier said was a “vote of confidence” for Sotto, seeks to express the “unequivocal support of the senators to the continued presidency” of Sotto in the upcoming 18th Congress “in order to maintain the Senate’s independence and uphold its proud tradition of being the bastion of democracy in this country.”

“I have a copy of a resolution expressing support in your leadership, to maintain you as Senate President,” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao then went on to mention the 13 senators who signed the draft resolution. These included senators Pacquiao, Panfilo Lacson, Sherwin Gatchalian, Grace Poe, Aquilino Pimentel III, Nancy Binay, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Joel Villanueva, Ralph Recto, and Juan Edgardo Angara.

Also supportive of Sotto were the 3 graduating senators: Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, and Gregorio Honasan II.

Pacquiao said Senator Richard Gordon called and asked him to sign the resolution for the latter.

A simple majority of 13 votes is enough to overhaul the Senate leadership. The 3 graduating senators, however, could no longer participate in the 18th Congress.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked for the point of Pacquiao’s manifestation when there is no motion to unseat Sotto.

He asked if it was Pacquiao’s intention to submit the resolution as part of the Senate’s record or to submit it personally to Sotto.

“Submitted to the Senate President,” Pacquiao said.

To which Drilon replied: “That has no place in formal proceedings in the Senate…. We find this manifestation a little awkward.”

In response, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Pacquiao’s was a “simple manifestation of support.”

Sotto then jokingly said, prompting laughter on the floor, “Why don’t you make Senator Drilon sign it?”

“We no longer have a minority floor leader,” Zubiri lightly said.

Under the rules, Drilon and other senators in the minority bloc do not have the power to choose chamber leaders. Once they do so, they would be considered part of the majority bloc.

Rumors abound that Sotto would be replaced by Senator Cynthia Villar in the 18th Congress, which would open on July 22. Villar earlier denied it. Villar, however, did not sign the draft resolution.

In another set of interpellation, Drilon asked Pacquiao why there were only 13 out of the 20 majority senators who signed the resolution. He then asked him why Villar did not sign it, drawing laughter from the people in the session hall.

Pacquiao replied, “We respect her decision.”

Drilon asked, “Is it unusual a member of the majority not signing a resolution in support of the Senate President?”

“I have no idea but we can ask her. In fact I respect her decision,” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao added, “Mr President, not all signed because they are not here.”

To which Drilon teasingly said: “But were there senators who were here who did not sign?”

Pacquiao said Villar was at the session hall as they speak. This time people, including Drilon, were ecstatic.

“We just want to make the session lively. The next topic is sin tax, a very boring subject,” Drilon said in jest. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com