The son also rises: Koko Pimentel makes history
Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III made history on Monday as the first senator to become a second-generation Senate President, taking his oath with his father, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., on his side.
The younger Pimentel, the head of President Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), was chosen to lead the Senate with 20 votes in the 24-member chamber, making him the third most powerful elected official in the country.
Pimentel joins the triumvirate of Mindanaoans now leading the government: Mr. Duterte in the executive and he and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in the legislature.
“It has never been this way before… 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,” he said in his first speech as Senate leader.
“Now, history seems to be making up for all those times of exclusion … Should this circumstance then be a source of pride? Forgive my, my dear friends, if I say ‘yes’ because, at the very least, it reassures our fellow Mindanaoans that we are, after all, truly on par with the rest of the country in matters of public service,” he said.
Pimentel called the current leadership “a singular opportunity” for the sons of Mindanao to “show to the nation and the world at large that we are up to the challenge in serving the best interests of our people,” he said.
Pimentel took stock of the magnitude of his victory, for being Mr. Duterte’s lone fellow member of PDP-Laban in the chamber, until neophyte Sen. Manny Pacquiao returned to the party last week.
“I read your presence here today as indicating your support for change that President Rodrigo Duterte has promised would come to the country,” he said.
Pimentel assured all his colleagues that “fairness will be the guiding principle in our implementation of the program of government for change that the majority of senators have agreed upon.”
He vowed to support the President’s legislative agenda: the shift to federalism; “all-out search for peace”; “all-out war on crime, drugs and corruption”; reforms in taxation, budget system and justice system; inclusive growth; environmental protection; quality education and healthcare; and services to poor children, the elderly and the ailing.
“In short, if we follow the mantra, ‘the poorest first, the poor second,’ we will never go wrong,” Pimentel said, vowing to promote an open Senate, where the public may give comments on proposed measures.
Cayetano no show
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Pimentel’s ally who had jostled for the chamber’s top post, was nowhere to be found as the Senate installed a new leadership.
Failing to snag the Senate presidency is Cayetano’s second political loss this season, having first lost the vice presidency even while he ran with the highly popular Mr. Duterte.
Cayetano posted a statement on his Facebook page, saying he had lost “what was never mine” and admitting that “one of my dreams passed me by.”
He was, however, congratulatory to Pimentel, saying: “I pray for Senator Koko and all the senators that we may fulfill the people’s mandate for change.”
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