MANILA, Philippines – President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. sat down to discuss his legislative agenda with lawmakers led by two politicians gunning to become the next Senate president and House Speaker, respectively: Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez.
On Tuesday, May 31, Zubiri shared to reporters pictures of Marcos’ meeting with several senators and district representatives at the president-elect’s headquarters in Mandaluyong City.
Senator-elect JV Ejercito, who was present at the meeting, told Rappler they discussed “PBBM’s legislative agenda” ahead of his State of the Nation Address in July.
Marcos’ office also released a media statement saying that the incoming president and the legislators were “discussing legislative agenda” during the courtesy call on Tuesday.
Ejercito added that Marcos was “concerned with the economic recovery” and wants a better implementation of the universal healthcare law.
The legislators who met with Marcos on Tuesday are expected to join his “supermajority” coalition once the 19th Congress convenes under the new government in July.
Leading the Senate contingent during the meeting was Zubiri, who is among the front runners for the Senate presidency. His closest opponent so far is Senator Cynthia Villar, whose ally former top cop turned senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa was also present during the meeting.
Apart from Zubiri, Ejercito, and Dela Rosa, the other senators who met with the president-elect are Lito Lapid, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Nancy Binay, and Ralph Recto, who is Senate President pro-tempore. Senators-elect Jinggoy Estrada, Loren Legarda, and Raffy Tulfo also joined the meeting.
Marcos’ cousin Romualdez, who has already secured the numbers to become the next House Speaker, was joined by Isabela 1st District Representative Antonio “Tonypet” Albano and Iloilo 1st District Representative Janette Garin.
Marcos’ meeting with the legislators came on the same day his older sister, Senator Imee Marcos, said it would be “most unlikely and improper” for the President-elect to meddle in the ongoing fight for the Senate presidency.
Senators usually choose their own leader without having to seek the incumbent president’s blessing – a usual practice in the House of Representatives that is traditionally known to be more subservient to whoever is sitting in Malacañang.
An endorsement from Marcos, however, would certainly give an advantage to whoever is seeking the Senate presidency in the 19th Congress. Senators would likely gravitate towards the aspirant backed by the president-elect who was voted by some 31 million Filipinos.
An aspiring candidate for Senate president must get at least 13 votes among the 24 members of the chamber to secure victory. Senate insiders said Zubiri supposedly already has 12 votes, while Villar has 8 so far, including Imee Marcos.
Zubiri, who staunchly backed Marcos’ presidential bid during the campaign, gave assurances that the chamber would be independent should he become the next Senate president. – Rappler.com