Drilon is Aquino’s choice, but they’re not admitting it | Inquirer News

Drilon is Aquino’s choice, but they’re not admitting it

Senator Franklin Drilon. FILE PHOTO

The Senate presidency was on everyone’s mind in Malacañang on Wednesday when Sen. Franklin Drilon met with President Aquino.

But the Palace played coy about Drilon being the presumptive Senate President.


It was the first official meeting between the President and Drilon, who served as campaign manager of Team PNoy in the just-concluded senatorial elections.


The meeting, held at the President’s office, preceded Team PNoy’s thanksgiving party, set to start at 7 p.m., at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

A Palace spokesperson could not confirm if the two leaders of the ruling Liberal Party would be talking about party matters, particularly on reports that Drilon would be the next leader of the Senate, when the 16th Congress opens in July.

Aquino’s ‘point man’

An administration source, however, confirmed that Drilon was the President’s choice for the top Senate post.

“It’s expected. You don’t need me to confirm or deny everything,” said an administration source, who asked not to be named since he was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.

“Apart from being the point man of the President in any legislative battle, Senator Drilon was also the point guard in what was a very important political exercise for the President,” said the source, referring to the May polls.


Key legislation

The administration source noted that Drilon helped deliver the vote for key legislation of the administration—the sin tax increase, reproductive health law, postponement of the 2011 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao—and the successful impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“In all these, Drilon was the President’s point man. And in the recent campaign, out of 96 scheduled sortie events (of Team PNoy), the President was present in about half, and his main campaign manager for something so important for him was Senator Drilon,” the source said.

Asked if the President would support Drilon’s bid to again lead the Senate, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said: “We didn’t talk about that (on Tuesday) … and the President has said that senators should be allowed to choose (the next Senate President.)”

Drilon was the Senate President in 2000 (11th Congress), from 2001-2004 (12th Congress) and again, from 2004-2006 (13th Congress).

In an ambush interview with reporters in Cavite City on Tuesday, Aquino distanced himself from the reorganization of the Senate leadership.

He said the senators should be given a free hand in the election of the next Senate President. “They might say that I am interfering with (the workings) of an independent coequal branch. Let’s just wait for their declaration,” Aquino said.

Asked about the agenda of Wednesday’s meeting, Valte said: “I don’t know. I’m not aware of the agenda. No, we have a 1 p.m. (meeting on Wednesday) with the President. There are several items on the agenda. I’m not quite sure about the 2:30 (meeting between the President and Drilon).”

13 votes needed

Drilon—or any contender for the Senate presidency—needs 13 votes to wrest the post from Juan Ponce Enrile, whose son, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, lost in the Senate race.

The senior Enrile has three more years in office.

Sen. Alan Cayetano said he was not casting a moist eye on the Senate presidency despite pronouncements made by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago that he was one of the two top contenders for the post.

Drilon, a senior member of the Liberal Party (LP), is the other.

“The question is (am I) actively pursuing it? I’m not actively pursuing it,” Cayetano said about plans for the Senate presidency.

“But if the majority says ‘I want Alan,’ anybody would be a hypocrite to say he doesn’t want it,” he added in a huddle with reporters.

Santiago said Cayetano was the most likely candidate to be fielded by the Nacionalista Party that would have the biggest number of senators in the 16th Congress.

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Santiago said the Senate presidency would be Drilon’s “reward” as Team PNoy won nine of the 12 seats in the last elections. Drilon has been playing coy whenever he’s asked whether he is interested in the post.

TAGS: Malacañang, Philippines, Politics, Senate

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