On his birthday, Gatchalian endorses 6 out of 7 reelectionist senators

MANILA, Philippines –  Senator Sherwin Gatchalian celebrated his 45th birthday on Saturday, April 6, by endorsing the bid of reelectionist senators to his home city, Valenzuela, saying that he fully believed in their capability to serve Filipinos well.

The reelectionist senators he supported were JV Ejercito, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, and Grace Poe. Ejercito was a no-show on Saturday, but he sent a representative. (READ: 7 reelectionist senators band together for 2019 campaign, elections)

Of the 7 reelectionists, only minority Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV was not endorsed by Gatchalian at the rally.

"It's really fitting i-hold itong birthday celebration and political rally para mapakilala 'yung mga friends natin. Itong pinakikilala natin ay personal friends, also nakatrabaho ko. Buo ang kumpiyansa ko sa kanila na maglilingkod sila ng mabuti at higit sa lahat, may integridad," Gatchalian told reporters.

(It's really fitting to hold my birthday celebration and political rally to introduce our friends. I'm introducing my personal friends whom I happened to work with. We fully believe that they will serve the people. Most of all, they have integrity.)

Apart from the reelectionist senators, Gatchalian also said Saturday that he was endorsing the campaign of actor and former senator Lito Lapid, because they both belonged to the Nationalist People's Coalition.

Gatchalian said that his birthday wish this year is for Filipinos to vote for the "right" leaders during the elections.

"Ang wish ko ay pag-aralan ng ating mga kababayan ang kanilang boto, especially sa local, dahil ito ay directly nakaka-impact sa kanilang buhay," the senator said.

(I wish that our countrymen will examine well who they will vote for, especially for local [leaders], because it has a direct impact on their lives.)

Senate 'seatmate' bond?

When Gatchalian introduced Angara during the rally, he referred to him as his "seatmate."

The "seatmate bloc" is composed of Gatchalian, Ejercito, Angara, as well as Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Joel Villanueva.

They later on included Binay, Villar, Senator Loren Legarda, and Senator Richard Gordon, in what apparead to be a force inside the Senate halls. (READ: Senate gets highest satisfaction rating in nearly 7 years)

Asked whether Gatchalian's endorsement of reelectionist senators would somehow "preserve" that force in the 18th Congress, he said: "Pinapakilala natin sa ating mga kababayan dito kung sino yung makakatulong sa ating bansa at also makakatulong sa Valenzuela." (We were merely introducing to our constituents who will be able to help our country, and Valenzuela too.)

Meanwhile, Pimentel in his speech reiterated his support for the bids of other reelectionist senators as well, looking back during his time as Senate President.

"Hindi naman kaya ng isang senador ang magpasa ng batas. Sinong tumulong sa time na ako ang Senate President para maipasa ang batas na ito? Para yung pangako ni President Duterte hindi mapako na maibigay sa taumbayan? Walang iba kung hindi yung mga reelectionist senators," Pimentel said.

(One senator alone cannot pass laws. We need to work together. Who helped me during my time as Senate President to pass laws for the promises of President Duterte to happen? It’s the reelectionist senators.) – 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.

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