Koko woos Alan to Senate ‘supermajority’
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Wednesday said he plans to meet with Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano soon in the hope the latter would join the “supermajority” now shaping up in the Senate supporting his bid for the Senate leadership.
Cayetano and the four senators supporting him, according to Pimentel, would raise to 22 the number of senators who may end up supporting his leadership come July 25 when the 17th Congress opens its session.
In various interviews, Pimentel disclosed that Senators Francis Escudero and Antonio Trillanes IV had decided to join the minority bloc.
He said Escudero and Trillanes did not belong to any group and his information was that they wanted to go to the minority.
But Escudero was earlier counted among the 17 senators that Sen. Vicente Sotto III said make up the supermajority that had agreed to support Pimentel.
In a text message, Escudero said he had talked to Pimentel to say he had “nothing personally” against him in deciding to go to the minority.
“…(B)ut as a matter of personal principle and belief, I would rather be in the minority of the Senate,” said Escudero.
But a source said Escudero left the majority because he was supporting the bid of Sen. Vicente Sotto III to become the Senate president. Sotto, who was earlier vying for the Senate leadership, has instead agreed to become the Majority Leader.
When asked in a phone interview, Pimentel himself confirmed that Escudero had committed to be in the majority only if Sotto was elected as Senate president. He said he respects Escudero’s decision.
Pimentel said he also wanted the Senate to have a minority bloc as it was needed in a “democracy” so it could do its job of checking the majority.
“We might become swell heads,” he said.
Trillanes has confirmed he was joining the minority “in order to freely pursue my advocacies.”
In a statement, Trillanes congratulated Pimentel for being chosen as the new Senate president and expressed confidence that “under (Pimentel’s) watch, the Senate’s integrity and independence won’t be compromised.”
Sotto, meanwhile, said the agreement to field Pimentel as Senate president was due to the fact that the latter belonged to the political party of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. Pimentel is the president of PDP-Laban.
Pimentel conceded he won the Senate presidency because he was Duterte’s party mate and it was “logical” that a party mate “should be a conductor in the Senate and with cooperation of senators, play wonderful music together.”
Pimentel said he intended to go to Davao to personally inform Duterte about the developments in the Senate but he assumed that the incoming President already knew about it due to the media coverage on the Senate leadership developments. He also noted that Duterte had met the other day with incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who was aware of the developments.
He will fly to Davao once the Senate resolution electing him as Senate president had been signed by senators so he could show it to Duterte.
Pimentel underscored the importance of Cayetano joining the supermajority since both of them were part of Duterte’s presidential campaign and were committed to help the Duterte administration succeed.
He also cited the fact that Cayetano, who was the vice presidential running mate of Duterte, knew of the president-elect’s campaign promises and will be helpful in forming and pushing the administration’s legislative agenda.
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