‘Hindi lang sunud-sunuran sa Presidente’: Sotto schools newbie senators

Aika Rey
‘Hindi lang sunud-sunuran sa Presidente’: Sotto schools newbie senators
Senate President Vicente Sotto III advises Senator Ronald dela Rosa and others to participate in plenary discussions so they can convince their colleagues to take their side on issues

 

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday, March 3, schooled neophyte senators on the dynamics in the Senate, after Senator Ronald dela Rosa complained about the adoption of a resolution filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

In a media interview on Tuesday, Sotto responded to Dela Rosa’s rant that administration senators – the majority – were always part of the minority vote, citing the Senate’s adoption of a resolution that questions President Rodrigo Duterte’s power to unilaterally end treaties.

Sotto said that the neophyte senators should look back at previous congresses to learn how the chamber works.

“Makikita nila na ang Senado, hindi laging sunud-sunuran sa Presidente…. Otherwise, mag-unicameral na lang tayo. Alisin na natin ‘yung Senado kung gusto ‘nyo lahat ng sasabihin ng Presidente puwede,” said Sotto.

(They will see that the Senate is not always subservient to the President…. Otherwise, let’s just shift to a unicameral system. Let’s just remove the Senate if you want to follow everything that the President says.)

The House of Representatives is traditionally dominated by the sitting President’s allies,  but it’s usually a different story in the Senate where senators are often referred to as “24 independent republics.” Administration measures are often assured of passage in the House, but the same cannot be said in the Senate.

Sotto said that if Dela Rosa and other newbie senators feel “left out” then they should participate in plenary discussions to “start convincing their colleagues.”

“That’s how it is,” he said.

‘Learning curve’

Sotto also reminded the neophyte senators that the minority does not always have to disagree with the majority, citing Drilon’s vote in favor of resolutions endorsed by the majority bloc.

“That’s the intricacies. Probably this will be a learning curve for some of our colleagues that this is how the Senate works,” Sotto said.

On the bipartisan resolution urging the Supreme Court to rule on the matter of Senate concurrence, Dela Rosa said in a separate interview on Tuesday that his colleagues cannot “dictate” his vote.

“I am learning from them but while learning they cannot dictate me whatever they want to,” the senator said.

He quickly clarified, however, that no one was dictating on him and that he just wanted to show his position on the resolution.

“‘Di naman sila nagdidikta sa amin but I have to stand my ground because that is my firm belief na walang ambiguity. Wala akong kailangang itanong sa Supreme Court,” Dela Rosa said. 

(They’re not dictating on us but I have to stand my ground because my firm belief is that there’s no ambiguity. I don’t have anything to ask the Supreme Court.)

Coup?

When asked, Sotto said he had not heard about any brewing coup against his leadership but if that happened, he had no problem with that.

“I only serve at the pleasure of my colleagues and you can replace me anytime. I don’t have a problem with that. But the important thing is still, I do my job as a senator. If I think it’s right, I will vote for it. If I think it’s not, I will not,” Sotto said.

Responding to questions, Dela Rosa said in an interview on Tuesday that he and other administration senators had no plan to push for a change in Senate leadership even if they felt that they belonged to a “small group” that were not being heard.

Asked if he always felt that he was in the Senate minority, as he had stressed on Monday, Dela Rosa said: “Matagal ko nang feel. Feel na feel (I’ve felt that for some time; strongly felt it) We just respect each others opinion on certain issues,” Dela Rosa said.

Senator Imee Marcos supported Dela Rosa’s statement that they don’t want a change in Senate leadership.

“Wala ngang gustong maging SP. Walang gustong mag-majo. Wala, no threat. No one wants their job (Nobody wants to be Senate President. Nobody wants to be majority leader. There’s no threat. No one wants their job),” she said.

She added that Dela Rosa was just being “deeply emotional” as he was not a politician. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.