Support for Liberal Party (LP) member Sen. Franklin Drilon’s bid for the Senate presidency is “firming up” in the ranks of the Nacionalista Party, according to the NP’s erstwhile presumptive aspirant for the Senate leadership.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who received the third highest number of votes in the recent senatorial elections, said he had talked to Drilon about a common legislative agenda between the LP, which led the administration coalition in the recent polls, and the NP, which won the most number of Senate seats.
“The coalition of the NP and the LP is growing. The support for Senator Drilon is growing,” Cayetano said in an interview.
“It seems that everybody [in the NP] agrees, but we have yet to meet as a party or as a group,” he said.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, a senior LP leader and political adviser to President Aquino, has noted the indications of where the NP is leaning with regard to the Senate leadership from the recent pronouncements of NP senators on Drilon’s chances.
He said that during the election campaign, it was Cayetano who first proclaimed Drilon as the next Senate President. Then, more recently, Sen. Antonio Trillanes said almost the same thing, Abad said in a text message.
Drilon, who had led the Senate once before, announced last Thursday that the LP and the NP had agreed to field a common candidate for Senate President when the 16th Congress convenes in July.
He told reporters the news after talking with NP president and outgoing Sen. Manuel Villar, also a former Senate President. Drilon, however, wouldn’t say who the common candidate was.
“I cannot [comment on who the common candidate will be] because I wasn’t at the meeting but what any astute observer can conclude is that … FMD [Drilon’s initials] appears to be the most logical candidate among those in the majority for the Senate presidency,” Abad said.
Abad adverted to Drilon’s supposed leadership role in the last Congress where he facilitated the passage of the 2013 national budget of more than P2 trillion and the controversial sin tax reform bill that is expected to generate an additional P33 billion annually.
He also mentioned Drilon’s handling of the campaign of the LP-led multi-party senatorial ticket that included NP candidates and that won nine out of 12 Senate seats in the last elections, and President Aquino’s obvious confidence in Drilon.
Cayetano said it was important for the coalition in the Senate to immediately work on proposed measures that will promote inclusive economic growth. He said the results in the first year-and-a-half of the new Congress could even set the stage for a common presidential candidate in 2016.
“If two of the three biggest parties are working together, it will set the stage for a mechanism for a common candidate in 2016,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano also expects the NP and the LP reach a consensus on the assignment of committee chairmanships.