Drilon: Team PNoy members expected to toe the line

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Senator Franklin Drilon. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Members of the “Team PNoy” administration senatorial ticket will be expected to support President Benigno Aquino’s legislative agenda and priority programs in the next Congress.

Senator Franklin Drilon, campaign manager of the LP-led slate, said Wednesday there was no party discipline among Aquino’s allies in the Senate, making it difficult to pass the administration’s priority measures, such as the recently enacted Sin Tax Reform Law and the reproductive health law.

“The President has asked that those in the Senate should be in support of his programs. If our people are convinced that the programs of the President are working, then we shall vote for the President’s choice,” Drilon told reporters before the start of a Senate session on Wednesday.

“My point is Team PNoy must be committed to PNoy’s program, as they are committed that all legislation geared toward these programs should be supported,” Drilon answered when pressed if the administration candidates were expected to make the Senate more manageable in the next Congress.

And to emphasize that the administration candidates have Aquino’s unequivocal backing, Drilon clarified that the slate is called Team PNoy (not Team Pinoy as the Inquirer earlier reported). He said the tag was a preferred reference to the President.

“These are the people whom the President chose to be his team in order to push his reforms in the last three years of his administration. It is clear to him: Ito ang kasama ko sa tuwid na daan (These are my allies in the ‘straight path’),” Drilon said in a statement.

In an earlier interview over ANC, Drilon said the present Senate was quite “unmanageable.”

“Yes. It’s because there are 23 republics in the Senate. There is no party discipline. Even administration measures are opposed by a certain number of the majority that’s why it’s difficult,” Drilon told Senate reporters, who sought an elaboration of his remarks on television.

Drilon took on the unenviable task of shepherding two important administration measures toward the end of 2012—the national appropriations bill and the contentious sin tax reform measure.

Senator Ralph Recto, a member of the Liberal Party like President Aquino and Drilon, resigned as chair of the ways and means committee after the revenue targets in his version of the sin tax bill proved unsatisfactory to the Aquino administration.

Congress eventually settled on a target of more than P30 billion in additional revenues from sin taxes. The amount is expected to be spent on the Aquino administration’s universal health care program.

Another administration measure passing through the wringer is Senator Teofisto Guingona’s bill strengthening the country’s anti-money laundering law. With only three session days left before the campaign period, the bill has yet to be passed on second reading.

Guingona, also an LP member, has expressed optimism that the third bill amending the anti-money laundering law would be passed on Monday.

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Tags: Benigno Aquino , Congress , election 2013

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