Pimentel to meet Duterte on agenda
SEN. AQUILINO Pimentel III, the presumptive Senate president, is set to meet with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on June 20 in Davao City to discuss the legislative agenda for the next six years.
Pimentel told the Inquirer yesterday he will also show Duterte the original signed Senate resolution electing him Senate president. The next Congress opens on July 25.
At present, he said, the resolution has been signed by 13 senators and he expects the 14th, Senator-elect Manny Pacquiao, to sign it by Tuesday.
Pimentel said Senator-elect Joel Villanueva had yet to sign the resolution but had committed to do so, while he still had to talk to Sen. Ralph Recto about joining his “supermajority.”
Pimentel said he was still hoping to talk to Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and convince him to join his supermajority group, along with the latter’s allies.
Cayetano and his few supporters had claimed he had the numbers to be elected Senate President.
On questions about committee chairmanships allotted to certain members of the supermajority as pointed out by Cayetano and Senator-elect Juan Miguel Zubiri, Pimentel gave a firm position on this issue.
“I owe it to the early supporters who joined the majority that I will respect their first choices of committees, and if there will be changes it will be with their consent. There will not be any change without their consent,” Pimentel said.
Cayetano and Zubiri had pointed out that the committees on public order as well as justice and human rights were given to non-allies—Senators-elect Panfilo Lacson and Leila de Lima—when these were sensitive committees close to Duterte’s advocacy against drugs and corruption.
But Pimentel said both De Lima and Lacson were a perfect fit for the committees since Lacson was Philippine National Police chief under President Joseph Estrada, while De Lima was a justice secretary.
Meanwhile, Sen. Vicente Sotto III said Sen. Grace Poe was taken aback by Zubiri’s statement that he was among the senators who were “primary allies” of Duterte, when Zubiri campaigned with Poe and company in the elections.
Sotto quoted Poe, who ran for president, saying: “How can (Zubiri) say that? We thought he was with us.” Sotto said he told Poe “we should have known better.”
Lacson, for his part, made it clear that he was “not at all against Duterte as averred by Senator Cayetano.”
“In fact, I continue to believe the mayor can really make a difference in reducing crime and corruption in our country,” Lacson said in a text message.
He said he had merely commented on Duterte’s undermining the integrity and independence of the Senate “because I felt it was my obligation to do so.”
“Save for that, I’d rather not comment any further on Senator Alan’s obvious political trickery. No amount of intrigue and self-serving statements coming from him or anybody can alter what the majority of the senators of the 17th Congress consider a sealed and delivered Senate presidency to Senator Pimentel,” Lacson said.
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