Senate top post not yet in the bag for DrilonBy Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Apparently, some kinks have yet to be ironed out with regard to the leadership of the incoming Senate.
Sen. Manny Villar on Tuesday became the second Nacionalista Party member to say the NP was waiting to see how Liberal Party (LP) Sen. Franklin Drilon would handle the committee assignments requested by allied senators.
Villar said much depended on how Drilon would juggle committee chairmanships sought by those he was wooing for support.
President Aquino has made known his preference for Drilon as Senate President in the 16th Congress.
“But it’s very important to note (that his assumption to the Senate presidency) is not absolute,” said Villar at the Kapihan sa Senado media forum on Tuesday.
Villar said anyone who wanted to become Senate President would be burdened by the “obligation” to make sure the senators of the majority bloc were happy with their committee assignments.
Villar did not name the committees the five NP senators who are expected to join the majority had asked for. The NP was a member of the administration coalition led by President Aquino’s Liberal Party that won a majority of the 12 Senate seats up for grabs in the May 13 elections.
Quid pro quo
“I will leave it to the individual senators. Of course they have their individual choices or preferences so it’s better if they make the disclosures. But making sure that they get or are satisfied with their assignments is the job of the Senate President,” said Villar in Filipino.
Earlier, NP Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the party’s support of Drilon’s bid for the Senate presidency hinged on whether or not party members were given their preferred committees.
“Committees are a major consideration,” said Villar in agreement.
As it is, NP Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is reportedly being considered for Senate President Pro Tempore, while his sister party-mate Pia Cayetano for majority floor leader.
Nationalist People’s Coalition Sen. Loren Legarda, however, said earlier Drilon had already offered her the majority post.
While Villar was confident Drilon would be able to iron out the problem of committee preferences, he said his assumption of the Senate leadership remained “without finality until he is really elected at the opening of the 16th Congress” on July 22.
“It’s not over till it’s over. This is a general principle regarding agreements between parties. This just shows it’s not perfect although I don’t see any problem between (Drilon) and the NP at the moment,” he said.