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Pimentel elected Senate President

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The 24-member Senate elected Sen. Koko Pimentel as the new and 22nd Senate President in a 20-3 vote yesterday.

Pimentel, president of President Duterte’s PDP-Laban and the lone member of the party in the Senate, replaced Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, a ranking official of the pro-Aquino Liberal Party.

Drilon, whose LP has more members in the Senate than other political parties, became the Senate President Pro Tempore, replacing Sen. Ralph G. Recto, who was elected as the Senate Minority Leader.

Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition formed by former Ambassador Eduardo “Danding’’ C. Cojuangco, was elected Senate Majority Leader and chairman of Senate Committee on Rules.

All the senators elected Pimentel except for Recto and Senators Francis Joseph G. Escudero and Antonio F. Trillanes IV.

Former Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano who aspired for the Senate presidency was the lone absentee in yesterday’s election of Senate officials. (Related story on Page 7)

The election of new Senate officials was witnessed by the diplomatic corps, former Senate President Edgardo J. Angara, and former Senators Heherson T. Alvarez, Santanina T. Rasul, Nikki Coseteng, and Rodolfo Biazon.

After paying respects to his parents and his colleagues, Chief Justice Lourdes PA Sereno, and the diplomatic corps, Pimentel said he finds it greatly gratifying that for the first time in Philippine history, Duterte, “the extraordinary mayor of Davao City,” has assumed office as the newly elected President of the nation.”

“And that at this very hour, coincidentally, the members of the House of Representatives are installing by overwhelming numbers Honorable Pantaleon Alvarez, a congressman representing the first district of Davao del Norte, a province in Mindanao as their Speaker,” Pimentel said.

“Now history seems to be making up for all those times of exclusion. And now it is now mandating that the two main branches of our tri-partite governmental set-up, namely, the Executive and the Legislative departments, be led by individuals from Mindanao,’’ he said.

Duterte, Pimentel, and Alvarez are all from Mindanao.

Sotto nominated Pimentel as Senate President and was endorsed by returning Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri who buried his political hatchet over the son of former Senate President Nene Pimentel during on their fight for a Senate seat during the Arroyo administration.

“I leave all that bitterness behind us as a sign of unity, magnanimity, and support for our people and our fellow Mindanaon President who has made history for our region,’’ Zubiri said in seconding the nomination by Sotto.

“Let this day usher a new dawn for our war torn and development hungry island of Mindanao. Where the land of promise has become broken promises and the people have been apathetic to national government,’’ Zubiri said.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao administered the oath of office of Pimentel. (MARIO B. CASAYURAN)