MANILA, Philippines – The Nacionalista Party (NP) might not bag the Senate Presidency but outgoing Sen Manny Villar said his group will not be shortchanged.
The NP president revealed that his partymates are getting some of their preferred committees as negotiations for the Senate leadership and panels intensify.
Villar hinted that the 5 NP members in the 16th Congress will get prime committee chairmanships as they engage in talks with likely Senate President Franklin Drilon of the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
“Nakita mo naman sa mukha ko na relaxed [ako] …. Di naman ako mare-relax bilang Pangulo [ng NP] kung wala pa kaming nakuha,” Villar said at the Kapihan sa Senado press briefing on Tuesday, June 25.
(You see in my face that I am relaxed. I won’t be relaxed as NP president if we haven’t gotten anything.)
Villar said the committee chairmanships are the primary consideration for the NP in talks on the Senate leadership.
“Of course, we are mindful of the committees our partymates will receive but I’m confident Frank can do it …. That’s why you become Senate President, the assumption is you can handle all these requests for committees.”
The NP is the party with the most members in the next Senate: Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Villar’s wife, senator-elect Cynthia Villar.
Villar explained why the NP decided against fielding its own candidate for Senate president despite its numbers. The NP has agreed to have a common bet with the LP.
“We don’t have 13 [votes],” he said in reference to the majority vote needed for the Senate leadership.
Villar added, “We (NP and LP) need each other to form a coalition.”
‘If marriages end, what more coalitions?’
The senator said it was logical for the NP to continue its partnership with the LP, which began in the May polls.
Yet he said the coalition was “not absolute” and may not last long.
He quipped, “Marriage nga, ‘di nagtatagal eh. Coalition pa?” (Even marriages don’t last long. What more coalitions?)
For now though, Villar said there was no reason for the NP to change its relationship with the LP.
“In general, we have an agreement but the Senate President has an obligation to satisfy the needs of the senators for committees and that should be ably handled by the Senate President.”
He added that while Drilon’s bid to lead the chamber is not yet “100% sure,” it is almost a done deal.
“I’m saying he’s almost there. In the Senate, even Frank realizes nothing is 100% sure. Pero mukha namang nakangiti siya eh.” (But it looks like he is already smiling.)
Villar refused to comment on reports that the Cayetano siblings are vying for Senate President Pro-Tempore and Senate Majority Leader.
“I will leave it to the individual senators to request for their individual demands. All other things being equal, I will support the desire of each NP senator. But not just because you demand it, it will be given to you. That will be discussed.”
Villar also said he refuses to meddle with senators’ haggling for committees.
“I leave it to them. They are making requests. Some have been granted, others not yet. That is really the job of the Senate president,” he said.
While there were “issues” with the NP’s requests, Villar said he is confident these will be resolved.
Advice to presidential wannabes
With his term ending this Sunday, the real estate magnate said he is looking forward to life after politics.
“I am enjoying my return to business and the Villar Foundation and I’m very happy with what I’m doing. My blood pressure is down. My cholesterol is down. I am happy.”
Will he be joining the Aquino Cabinet? “I am not asking for any position. I will just answer the question if I am offered.”
Villar played an active role in the 2013 polls, being a major funder for the NP. Yet he said his participation in the 2016 presidential elections is still unclear.
“I don’t know if I will still be president of the party by then. We don’t want to talk about 2016.”
The defeated 2010 presidential bet then gave an advice to his partymates who are eyeing the presidency. The NP members reported to be running in 2016 are Sen Alan Peter Cayetano and Marcos.
“If you’re looking at 2016, ‘wag masyadong maaga. Iba pa ang mga circumstances. Madali mag-presidentiable, mahirap mag-presidente. Ang presidente ay destiny. Ilagay mo ang pangalan mo sa tambiolo pero mag-antay ka kung ikaw ang mapipili.”
(Don’t prepare too early. The circumstances might still change. It’s easy to be a presidentiable, hard to be a president. The presidency is destiny. Put your name in the jackpot but wait if you will be chosen.) – Rappler.com