Senate Presidency: Alan Cayetano gives way to Pimentel
OVER dinner at Malacañang with President Duterte on Tuesday, rivals for the Senate presidency—Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Alan Peter Cayetano—more or less patched things up.
Before the meeting, Pimentel, who heads Mr. Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, had apparently already gotten the numbers to clinch the Senate presidency. But it was unclear whether Cayetano, who failed to win the vice presidency as President Duterte’s running mate, would withdraw his own bid and be counted along with his supporters as part of the majority coalition.
The agreement was that both of them would work together to support the President’s legislative agenda, Pimentel said yesterday, adding that favored committee chairmanships would now be spread to Cayetano’s supporters.
“Our last conversation in front of the President was that we are together. We belong to one camp, and we should work together. That’s the message I got from him. That’s also my message to him. So that should be it,” Pimentel told reporters yesterday.
Asked how he took Cayetano’s words, Pimentel replied: “The meaning beyond the words, you better ask Alan. But that was our exchange. And that’s what has long been on my mind, that we are together. That is the clear agreement.”
“He made that statement before the President, in the presence of the President. So OK na ‘yon (so that’s that),” he said on the sidelines of a PDP-Laban luncheon held in Makati City.
The usually vocal Cayetano could not be reached for comment.
Among Cayetano’s known supporters are Senators Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Richard Gordon and Cynthia Villar.
“This is very important…At least the senators perceived to be supporting Alan are already talking to me, talking to us,” Pimentel said.
He said his new supporters would be getting committee chairmanships: housing will go to Ejercito, trade and industry will go to Zubiri, while Gordon and Villar are still mulling over their options.
Pimentel said it was unclear whether Cayetano would like to lead a particular committee.
“Senator Alan said I should not mind him. So I am not thinking about him,” Pimentel said.
The minority bloc in the Senate is expected to be few, with the sure inclusion of Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Antonio Trillanes IV. Sen. Ralph Recto has not made up his mind, Pimentel said.
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