Zubiri, Lacson brush off possible Senate leadership change
MANILA, Philippines —Will Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III keep his post when the 18th Congress opens in July?
This early, Sotto’s colleagues in the Senate majority bloc are downplaying any ouster move against him.
“There is no talk of leadership change,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri told reporters in a Viber message on Wednesday.
“As far as I’m concerned, our SP still has the strong trust and confidence of all the reelectionists coming back to the Senate, plus a solid number of those remaining,” he said.
Seven incumbent senators ran for another term during the May 13 elections, but only five have so far made it to the winning circle based on the unofficial count.
The five are Senators Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Sonny Angara, Aquilino Pimentel, and Nancy Binay. Two others— Senators JV Ejercito and Bam Aquino — are outside the Magic 12.
“I’m not sure who wants to make a go for it, but definitely the combined bloc of the Seatmates and Macho block is a group to contend with,” Zubiri continued.
The so-called ‘Macho’ bloc is composed of Sotto, Senators Panfilo Lacson, and Gringo Honasan, whose term will expire in June.
The “Seatmates” bloc, on the other hand, is composed of Zubiri, Angara, Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon, Binay, and Villar.
Even if Sotto offers to resign, Lacson is confident that most, if not all new members of the majority, would still ask the Senate leader to keep his post.
Lacson also downplayed any ouster move against Sotto, saying that there is no reason to replace the present leadership.
“Definitely stable because we have no reason to change him as our leader,” he said of Sotto’s leadership in another text message. “He has shown very good leadership qualities. He can stand up for what the Senate should represent and more.”
“Looking at the new composition of the chamber in the 18th Congress, even if for some reason he offers to step down, I am quite sure, most if not all of us in the new majority will persuade him to stay,” Lacson added.
Sotto, meanwhile, is leaving his fate up to his colleagues.
“I leave it to my colleagues. I only serve at their pleasure,” he said.
Asked if has heard of any possible change in the Senate leadership, the Senate leader said: “I have only been hearing of unconditional support from some of my peers.”
“But then again, it’s up to the majority to support or not support the present leadership,” he pointed out.
It was also a year ago next week when Sotto was elected Senate President, which was then being held by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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