Drilon, Villar agree on common bet for Senate president

Natashya Gutierrez
(UPDATED) Sen Franklin Drilon refuses to categorically say he is the common candidate

NEXT LEADER. Senator Franklin Drilon falls short of admitting he is next Senate President. Photo by Natashya Gutierrez/RAPPLER

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Sen Franklin Drilon admitted on Thursday, May 23, he spoke to outgoing senator and Nacionalista president Manny Villar early Thursday where both agreed to support the ruling party’s bet for Senate president.

While Drilon did not identify the common bet, he made obvious references to himself during a press  conference at the Senate.

“Senator Villar assured us the NP will continue to support the President and his legislative agenda, that there will be a common candidate of the coalition. And we discussed the different committees and the members the NP would like to have,” he said.

Drilon is counting on the support of at least 12 LP members and administration allies, including 4 from the NP — Sen Antonio Trillanes IV, Sen Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen Pia Cayetano and senator-elect Cynthia Villar. Trillanes, (Alan) Cayetano and Villar all ran under Team PNoy in the May 13 elections.

Drilon needs 13 votes to clinch the post.

He said that the NP and the LP, as well as President Benigno Aquino III’s allies in the Senate, will “certainly” be able to muster more than 13 votes. At the coalition’s victory party on Wednesday, May 22, Cynthia Villar also vowed NP’s support for LP.

An LP source earlier told Rappler that the ruling party is certain that Drilon will be the next Senate president. The senator said as much at the press conference.

When asked whether senators would be assigned to committees according to their expertise, he said, “I’d like to continue that tradition.” Then he immediately corrected himself to say, “the senators would like to continue that tradition.”

He also said he has talked to senators about their preferred committees, but not to all, such as the minority bloc. 

The current Senate president is Sen Juan Ponce Enrile. His allies are Majority Floor Leader Sen Vicente Sotto III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, Sen Jinggoy Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), independent Sen Gregorio Honasan, as well as senator-elect JV Ejercito of PMP and Nancy Binay of PDP-Laban. Honasan, Ejercito and Binay all ran under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance.

Drilon said he did not consult with President Aquino before he talked to the senators. “We do not need authority from the President. I have my own mandate,” he said.

The senator said the formal voting for Senate president will be on July 22, when the 16th Congress convenes.

Ready minority

Meanwhile, Sen Jinggoy Estrada, son of UNA head Joseph Estrada, said he believes his group is ready to become the minority bloc.

He said he finds nothing wrong with Drilon’s negotiations, saying it is “natural” and something they had done as well when they were the majority.

Estrada also considers Sen Bong Revilla of Lakas-CMD as part of their alliance, in addition to their group of 6, but said the minority has yet to meet in June.

He admitted being interested in the Minority Floor Leader post, but said they may still field incumbent Senate President Enrile for the post. 

“We will still be a force to reckon with… Hopefully we will vote as a bloc,” he said. – Rappler.com

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