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Drilon likely to remain as Senate President

Senate President Franklin Drilon will likely remain the Senate leader in the 17th Congress if none of his colleagues posturing for the position gets a majority vote.

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said that counting on the country’s political history, no President of the country was able to establish his preferred leader in the Senate.

“Well, based on experience, our political experience, no president that I know did that involve himself in the leadership of both Houses. (There was) none, whether it’s Quezon, Osmeña, Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, Macapagal, Marcos, and all the rest after that, always,” Enrile told reporters in an interview.

“Lalo na ngayon (most especially now); we are a multi-party (system) so, as you can see as, if…and I’m sure what is being written in the paper is correct, many of the erstwhile members of the ruling party are already disengaging themselves from the ruling party and joining the coalition with the new party,” the veteran lawmaker pointed out.

Enrile is pointing to the recent reports that some Liberal Party congressmen have decided to join Davao City Mayor and incoming President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban.

“That is the weakness of the present Constitution. Before, if you are a Nacionalista, you are a Nacionalista, very seldom that a member of the Liberal Party or the Nacionalista (party) will travel across the political divide,” Enrile said.

Last week, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III formally announced he is interested in getting the Senate leadership and engage a “friendly competition” with Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who is also said to be eyeing the same post.

Pimentel is president of the PDP-Laban while Duterte is the chairman. Cayetano was the Davao City Mayor’s running mate during the May 2016 elections.

Also being floated for the Senate leadership role is Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III who is said to be an “alternative choice” between the LP and the PDP-Laban.

Sought for comment, Drilon said he is not at all threatened by the aspirations of his colleagues. “I don’t. The posturing is a natural episode once a new Congress comes,” Drilon said.

Those vying for the Senate Presidency, he said, has to get at least 13 votes to unseat the incumbent president. “Anyone who wants to unseat me would have to get the gift from 13 senators,” the Senate leader said.

But for the meantime, Drilon said he is going to focus on the canvassing of the votes for the President and Vice President during the May 2016 elections.

“My first concern is to canvass the votes for president and vice president…My work for today and the next several days is to try to have the canvass,” he said.

Sotto echoed Enrile’s observation saying that historically, no President successfully installed a Senate leader that he endorsed even though an imprimatur of the president on a candidate for Senate Presidency could help boost his chances.

“It helps, it always helps, but there have been experiences in the past that the one who gets elected as Senate President is not the one the President actually wanted,” Sotto said.

Sotto said such was the case in 1987, when then President Corazon Aquino wanted Sen. Neptali Gonzales to be at the helm of the Senate but it was Sen. Jovito Salonga who was elected.

Also in 1992, Sotto said then President Fidel V. Ramos had wanted Sen. Teofisto Guingona Jr. but Sen. Edgardo Angara was elected. He said the same thing happened during the time of President Gloria M. Arroyo who disliked Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel III but ended up getting elected as the Senate President.

Enrile, he pointed out, also ended up the Senate President even when President Aquino wanted Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.

According to Sotto, the Senate through the years, seems to remain an independent institution. “I’ve noticed that, just look at the records…the public is not open to the idea of a Senate subservient to the administration. I’ve noticed that,” Sotto said.