LP weighing options in ‘supermajority’ after De Lima ouster
Liberal Party senators are set to hold talks on whether or not to stay with the Senate majority after what one party member described as the abrupt ouster of their colleague Sen. Leila De Lima from the powerful committee on justice and human rights on Monday without prompt consultation.
Sen. Paulo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV on Tuesday said the party is set to hold “a series of meetings” this week to discuss whether it would be healthy to remain in the supermajority at the chamber, led by the Partido Demokratiko Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), President Rodrigo Duterte’s party.
“We’re talking about that to be very frank. We’ll be discussing it today and in the succeeding days…. We were quite surprised about what happened yesterday,” Aquino told reporters.
“We will weigh (if party will stay in majority or not). I’m sure that will be one of the points to talk about. We also want to check if the reforms we want to push in the different committees can still be pushed in the current setup. So we will talk about that,” he said.
Four senators from the former ruling party— De Lima, Aquino, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon, and Francis Pangilinan— along with guest candidates in the May 2016 elections- Senators Risa Hontiveros and Joel Villanueva—are part of the majority of 20 senators allied with the administration.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto is the lone LP member in the minority.
Party loyalties, however, became apparent when the Senate voted on De Lima’s removal from the justice and human rights committee, after Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Mr. Duterte’s defeated running mate, delivered a scathing speech against his staunchest critic for her “bias” against the President.
During her stint as justice and human rights committee chair for less than two months, De Lima initiated an investigation into the spate of suspicious deaths as Duterte pursued his brutal war on drugs.
During the vote, Aquino, Drilon, Pangilinan and Hontiveros stayed beside De Lima’s side, members of the minority abstained, including LP member Recto, while 16 voted to oust her.
“We were not consulted. And honestly, if it were raised earlier, probably that would not have been the outcome yesterday… we are part of the majority after all. But a number of our colleagues decided to remove her,” Aquino said. IDL/rga