Palace sees close cooperation with Sotto-led Senate | Inquirer News

Palace sees close cooperation with Sotto-led Senate

Malacañang is optimistic that its cooperation with the Senate will remain consistent even with the looming change in the upper chamber’s leadership.

President Duterte will respect the chamber’s decision to replace Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III with Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“We respect the right of our senators to choose their own leader,” said Roque, who made the remarks after 14 of the 23 senators signed a draft resolution on Thursday, electing Sotto as the next Senate president.


Roque said Malacañang considered Sotto as a close, known ally of the President.


“The Palace believes that whoever is elected Senate president, the close relationship and cooperation between the Senate and Malacañang will remain unchanged,” he added.

Sotto replacement


As the Senate reorganization looms, at least three senators from the proadministration coalition pointed to Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri as the next likely majority leader, replacing Sotto.

“Sen. Zubiri would be very acceptable. He’s very amiable, he has no enemies. And he has been majority leader before, so he knows the work,” Sen. JV Ejercito said on Friday.

Ejercito said Zubiri’s personality was perfect for the post, which he last held in 2008 to 2010.


Sen. Nancy Binay, in a separate interview, said the senators in the majority bloc were inclined to support Zubiri.

“Our group is leaning toward Sen. Migz Zubiri,” she said.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao said he had requested Zubiri to lead the Senate majority as he wanted another leader from Mindanao.

Zubiri, who is from Bukidnon, thanked his colleagues for expressing their confidence in his leadership.

“If chosen, I will perform with the same work ethic as I had in the previous 14th Congress where we passed a record number of bills into law and over 600 Republic Acts,” he said.

Tougher leader


Senators in the majority coalition also see Sotto as a tougher, more independent Senate leader who can take on House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

“I have nothing against [Pimentel] who is really very kind and whose integrity is without question. But it’s only that the majority want someone who is more imposing,” Ejercito said.

“The consensus of everyone is that [Pimentel] is kind. He is too kind. The Senate also needs to be protected as an institution,” the senator from San Juan added.

Binay echoed Ejercito and  said several senators were unhappy with Pimentel’s response to Alvarez’s attacks on the Senate.

“I think that is the group’s consensus, which is that [Pimentel] should have spoken up more… to defend the insitution, it being a coequal branch,” she said.

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Alvarez has repeatedly criticized the Senate for its “slow” action on the Duterte administration’s priority measures, calling it the “mabagal na kapulungan” (slow chamber) in several public appearances.

TAGS: Palace, Pimentel, Rodrigo Duterte, Senate

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