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Koko assures full support for Duterte reform initiatives

With his election as the next president of the Senate already assured by his colleagues in the super majority when the 17th Congress opens tomorrow, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said yesterday he is committed to shepherding the urgent reform agenda of the Duterte administration.

Pimentel gave assurances of full support to President Duterte’s reform initiatives amid an unprecedented public approval of 91 percent for the new Chief Executive who ran in the May 9, 2016 national elections based on a platform of change.

The search for peace, a shift to the federal form of government, and an all-out war against drugs, crime, and corruption top both the Senate and Duterte agendas.

Interviewed over DZMM, the presumptive Senate chief confirmed that he has had talks with his chief rival for the top Senate post, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano, that averted a showdown tomorrow.

“Nag-usap na kami in Alan. We belong to one camp. Everyone is supportive and protective of the President,” said Pimentel, chairman of the pro-administration party PDP-Laban which was formed in by his father, former Senate President Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr.

Cayetano, of the former Senate President Manuel B. Villar Jr.’s Nacionalista Party, was the defeated vice presidential candidate of Duterte in the May 9 elections.

In another radio interview by DZRH yesterday, Pimentel said the chairmanship of the powerful Senate Blue Ribbon Committee was given to returning Sen. Richard J. Gordon.

Before the Pimentel-Cayetano meeting, the committee chairmanship had been kept open for Cayetano.

Because of this development, the minority bloc is composed of Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, Sen. Antonio “Sonny’’ F. Trillanes IV, and Sen. Francis Joseph “Chiz’’ G. Escudero, Pimentel said.

Pimentel, the lone PDP-Laban member in the 24-member Senate, has vowed to be an activist and reformist leader of the chamber and to “hit the ground running.” (Mario B. Casayuran)