Drilon: Koko is next Senate president
Senate President Franklin Drilon has conceded the chamber’s leadership to Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III in the 17th Congress, saying he did it “for the sake of unity and stability.”
“I wish to announce that last night major political parties have agreed to have an alliance, principally the LP (Liberal Party) and its allied parties — we have six LP, one Akbayan — with the PDP-Laban, plus the NPC (Nationalist People’s Coalition) and the other allied political groups,” Drilon himself said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay on Wednesday.
“Last night, we met and had that agreement. The president of the incoming Senate will be Koko Pimentel III. I will be the Senate President Pro Tempore and (Senator Vicente) Tito Sotto will be the Majority Leader,” he said.
Drilon said Pimentel, president of PDP-Laban now being headed by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, had the support of about 16 to 17 senators.
“We maintain the independence of the Senate but at the same time we will support in general the legislative agenda of President Duterte,” the incumbent Senate leader said.
“As the committees are still being discussed, we have agreed that Koko Pimetel is our next president, the only PDP-laban in the Senate but has the support of both my group and Tito Sotto’s group,” he said, adding that Pimentel was “very qualified” for the post.
Drilon said they also decided to support Pimentel “to provide stability in the leadership of the Senate.”
He said the support for Pimentel was already “cast in stone.”
“We have enough, we have more than the required majority,” the incumbent leader said.
A simple majority or 13 of the 24-man chamber is needed to elect a new Senate leader.
Asked why he did not fight to keep his post when the LP had the most number of members in the chamber, Drilon said: “For the sake of unity and stability…”
“Yes we’re big, it was a question of looking for five. But instead of wrangling, we said: Alright, we just assume the post of Pro Temp, we support the lone PDP-Laban senator and we have an alliance with Senator Sotto and the NPC.”
Pimentel confirmed the “agreement” reached among the major groups in the chamber.
In fact, he said, he would go to Davao to personally inform Duterte about the new development.
“But I’m not yet feeling that well to travel. Bad case of cough and colds,” Pimentel said.
Asked about the distribution of committees in the Senate, Pimentel said: “Ayos na among the 17 (senators).”
When the new Congress opens on July 25, Drilon would still be sitting as Senate President until a motion to elect a new leader is made on the floor.
“There will be a motion to organize the Senate… I open the session of the 17th Congress, after which there will be nominations for the leadership. As we go along, the committee chairmanships will be nominated on the floor,” he said.
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