Allies of the Aquino administration can replace Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and take control of the Senate if the latest preelection survey results showing the dominance of Team PNoy senatorial candidates are sustained on Election Day, a senator said Tuesday.
But allies of Enrile are doubtful that the Team PNoy coalition will hold after the May elections.
Sen. Serge Osmeña III, one of the strategists of Team PNoy, said the administration bloc would have 14 to 15 allies in the Senate in the 16th Congress, more than enough to replace Enrile, one of the founders of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
In the Social Weather Stations survey of Feb. 15-17, only three UNA candidates made it to the Magic 12—Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito and Juan Miguel Zubiri. The rest belonged to Team PNoy.
In the Pulse Asia survey of Feb. 24-28, four UNA candidates landed in the winning circle—Ejercito, Binay, Gregorio Honasan and Jack Enrile—with Team PNoy getting eight.
The decision of UNA to drop Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero, and Grace Poe Llamanzares a week after the start of the campaign has left it with only nine candidates on its slate.
Osmeña said that if the 8-4 Pulse Asia survey results in favor of Team PNoy held, the UNA bloc—Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Vicente “Tito” Sotto III—plus Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. would total only eight.
“PNoy would have 14. I don’t know how Miriam (Defensor-Santiago) and (Ferdinand Jr.) Marcos would vote,” said Osmeña.
Honasan did not agree with Osmeña’s assessment. “If the assumption is that the NP-LP (Nacionalista Party-Liberal Party) coalition and the other non-LP parties will hold after the election, that may be a wrong assumption. The swing vote of Senate President Enrile may still be material,” he said
Depends on other factors
“In short, everything is still up in the air. Please note that the Senate President is elected by senators and not appointed by the President,” Honasan said in a text message.
Sotto, the Senate majority leader, said that a change in the Senate leadership would depend on other factors.
“The Senate intramural will only start after we find out who’s who in the session. We’ve been there, done that. Party lines and affiliations are usually blurred when it comes to the Senate presidency post,” he said.
Estrada, the Senate president pro tempore, and Sen. Franklin Drilon refused to divine the composition and leadership of the Senate in the next Congress.
“Let’s cross the bridge when we get there,” said Estrada.
Drilon said the Senate presidency was for the majority to decide. He remained confident that the Team PNoy coalition would remain intact in the 16th Congress.