Lobbying for Senate posts starts
MANILA, Philippines — What the President’s men want, they get.
Former presidential special assistant Christopher “Bong” Go and former Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, two of President Rodrigo Duterte’s closest allies, will get their preferred committees once they officially assume office as senators, Senate leaders said on Monday.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Go specifically asked to head the Senate health committee during the meeting of administration senators in a posh hotel in Makati City on Saturday night.
Go, who steadily ranks third in the partial and official vote count of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the May 13 senatorial race, will likely replace Sen. JV Ejercito, who appears to have lost his reelection bid.
“He requested in our meeting that he’d like to have the committee on health because he spearheaded the Malasakit Centers. So far, nobody [has] objected,” Zubiri told reporters.
Lobbying for posts
“There’s a lot of lobbying and jockeying for posts, but so far there are particular chairmanships that have been decided,” he added.
As for Dela Rosa, Zubiri said Sen. Panfilo Lacson had agreed to give up his chairmanship of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs for his former subordinate in the PNP.
Dela Rosa, the enforcer of Mr. Duterte’s brutal drug war that has left more than 5,000 mostly urban poor suspects dead, ranks fifth in the latest Comelec tally.
“Senator Lacson was very gracious in giving way [to Dela Rosa],” the Senate majority leader said.
Interestingly, it was Lacson’s committee, along with the Senate blue ribbon committee headed by Sen. Richard Gordon, that conducted the inquiry into the extrajudicial killings allegedly perpetrated by policemen tasked to wage the war on drugs.
At one of the hearings, Dela Rosa broke down as he defended the PNP’s unorthodox strategy in stemming the illegal drug trade against international condemnation.
According to Zubiri, the President’s former political adviser, Francis Tolentino, had also spoken with Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III regarding his possible committee chairmanship in the Senate.
Tolentino, who lost his first senatorial bid in 2016, may have already punched his ticket to the Senate with his steady hold on the ninth place in the Comelec tally.
Zubiri said the 20 incoming and incumbent administration senators, including the five members of the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan, had all agreed to keep Sotto as the leader of the 24-member Senate.
Equity of the incumbent
“The agreement was equity of the incumbent. It is the tradition anyway, unless one decides to relinquish his or her position or chairmanship. We support the equity of the incumbent rule,” Sotto said.
Sotto said Lacson, who maintains a good relationship with the Duterte administration despite his criticisms of some of its policies, would take over the Senate national defense and security committee from his good friend, outgoing Sen. Gregorio Honasan II.
Honasan, who is ending his second consecutive six-year term as senator, has been picked by Mr. Duterte to head the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
Sotto said Sen. Sonny Angara, who is on his way to winning a second term, would succeed outgoing Sen. Loren Legarda as head of the powerful finance committee.
Legarda has completed her second six-year term in the Senate and won election as representative of Antique province in the House.
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