Koko Pimentel takes Senate presidency by 20-3 vote
Originally posted @ 10:53 a.m., July 25, 2016
Revised @ 12:25 p.m., July 25, 2016 to add elements of Pimentel’s speech
Voting 20-3, senators elected Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Monday as the new Senate President.
Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III nominated Pimentel for the post shortly after the chamber opened the 17th Congress at 10:00 a.m. Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri seconded the motion.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero then nominated Senator Ralph Recto, a member of the Liberal Party, for the presidency. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV seconded Escudero’s nomination.
During nominal voting, Pimentel voted for Recto. Recto voted for Pimentel.
Aside from Recto, the 19 other senators who voted for Pimentel were Sotto, Zubiri, former Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senators Sonny Angara, Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Manny Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, and Cynthia Villar.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who earlier expressed a desire to seek the Senate presidency, was the only senator absent during the voting.
After losing the vote, Recto automatically became the Minority Leader. He will be joined by Escudero and Trillanes.
Drilon was later elected Senate President Pro Tempore while Sotto was elected Majority Leader.
Pimentel, president of PDP-Laban which is now headed by President Rodrigo Duterte, earlier promised to lead an “activist Senate.”
Pride for Mindanao
In a speech after his election, Pimentel said it was “greatly gratifying” that for the first time in the history of the country, the President and the new leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives were all from Mindanao.
He spoke while the House was still voting for the next Speaker, who was expected to be Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.
“It had never been this way before, my dear friends,” Pimentel said. “In fact, for a long time, the people of Mindanao have felt excluded from the center of political power that defined policies and programs for the progress and development of the nation.”
“Now, history seems to be making up for all those times of exclusion. And it is now mandating that the two main branches of our tripartite governmental setup, namely, the executive and the legislative departments be led by individuals from Mindanao.”
“Should that circumstance, then, be a source of pride?” the senator asked. “Forgive me, my dear friends, if I say, ‘Yes.’ Because at the very least, it reassures our fellow Mindanaonons that we are, after all, truly at par with the rest of the country in matters of public service.”
A ‘fair’ leadership
Despite this, Pimentel assured his colleagues that he would be fair in carrying out his mandate as Senate President. He also gave the assurance that “fairness” would be the guiding principle of the program of change that he and the majority of senators agreed upon.
This program of government, he said, included the all-out search for peace, the adoption of a federal system of government, an all-out war against crime, drugs, and corruption, tax reforms, the strengthening of the rule of law and the justice system, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, quality education and health care, among others.
Pimentel also offered his hand of friendship and camaraderie to those whom he said disagreed with the current majority in the Senate.
“Let me offer my hand of friendship and camaraderie, with the assurance that in the running of the affairs of our institution, we shall ever be guided by the democratic principle that even as the majority rules, the rights of the minority will always be respected pursuant to our promulgated rules, clear precedents, and well established practices,” he said.
“And as I have said earlier, I will be fair to all,” Pimentel added.
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