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JV to support Duterte-backed Senate leader

Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said he is mulling joining the majority bloc in the Senate when the 17th Congress opens in July 25.

So whoever President-elect Rodrigo Duterte endorses as the next Senate President, the senator said, would have his backing.

“I want to give all the support in the new administration. Of course, we want that the new administration would be off to a good start. So hopefully, we can give him the honeymoon period in the next two or three years, and push for the legislative agenda that would support his programs,” Ejercito told reporters in an interview.

Sen. Cynthia Villar earlier said the Davao City mayor who is set to formally assume his office on June 30 has endorsed Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano to be the next Senate leader.

This, even though Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III’s also announced he is aspiring for the Senate presidency.

Cayetano was Duterte’s running mate in the recent May 2016 elections.

Ejercito, who supported Sen. Grace Poe’s presidential bid in the last polls, said he had a chance to talk to Duterte three weeks ago and congratulated him.

Asked if he and President-elect discussed the Senate presidency, Ejercito replied yes but declined to reveal whom Duterte endorsed to him personally.

“Secret muna,sa amin na lang daw muna (It’s a secret, he wants to keep it between us first),” said the senator who is currently a member of the Senate minority bloc.

“Again it would depend on the final instruction. Tutal may two months pa naman eh, after the June 30 oath-taking. The State of the Nation Address (SONA) would be the opening of the 17th Congress, then we still have about two months,” Ejercito said. (Hannah L. Torregoza)