MANILA, Philippines—The Nacionalista Party (NP) is hoping to get the next two highest leadership posts in the Senate and the chairmanship of at least four committees, presumably in exchange for supporting the ruling Liberal Party’s Sen. Frank Drilon in his quest for the Senate presidency.
And it looks like it’s going to get what it wants, judging by how well the discussions with Drilon have been going, according to Senator-elect Cynthia Villar, the wife of NP president and outgoing Sen. Manuel Villar.
Villar said the NP was eyeing the posts of Senate Pro Tempore and Majority Leader for the siblings Alan Peter Cayetano and Pia Cayetano, respectively.
The NP also wants the chairmanship of the committee on national defense for Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and that of the committee on local governments for Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., she said. Marcos chaired the local governments committee in the last Congress.
As for herself, Villar said she would like to chair the committee on agriculture and, if possible, also the committee on trade and industry.
“That’s where my advocacy of generating livelihood lies. Many of our countrymen are in the agriculture sector,” said Villar, who successfully ran on a platform of providing jobs and livelihood opportunities.
“(The committee on agriculture) will be a good committee for me,” she said, adding that the trade committee was also involved in income generation.
The NP is expected to be a force to reckon with in the next Congress, with the most number of senators among the parties represented in the Senate.
There are five NP members in the 24-member chamber, against the four of President Aquino’s LP.
All three of the NP senatorial candidates in the recent elections—reelectionists Trillanes and Alan Cayetano, and Villar—won under the LP-led Team PNoy coalition that Drilon led as its campaign manager.
Incumbents Pia Cayetano and Marcos bring the NP’s number in the Senate to five.
The LP also fielded three senatorial aspirants but only the President’s cousin, Bam Aquino, won.
There will be four LPs in the Senate in July—Drilon, Ralph Recto, Teofisto Guingona III and Bam Aquino.
Marcos and Pia Cayetano won their seats in 2007 and will serve until 2016. Pia Cayetano is now on her second term while Marcos is still eligible to run for reelection when his term ends three years from now.
Pia Cayetano was the chair of the Senate committee on youth, women and family relations in the last Congress while Alan Cayetano was the minority leader.
Trillanes was a junior Navy officer who led two coups against the Arroyo administration. He won election in 2010 while in detention.
Election topnotcher Grace Poe-Llamanzares said she had yet to talk to Drilon or anybody about a committee chairmanship but expressed interest in social welfare.
“I would like to be involved in committees that oversee the social welfare needs of our countrymen,” said Poe, who ran with Team PNoy but remains an independent.
Senator-elect Juan Edgardo Angara, another administration candidate, said he had discussed his committee preferences with Drilon. He said his preferences were “still exploratory.”