Incoming Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III expressed confidence yesterday that the relations of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and the Senate will be smooth despite Duterte’s warning to Congress not to be a hindrance to his campaign to rid the country from the tentacles of the multi-billion-peso illegal drug trade and other criminal activities.
Pimentel, president of the PDP-Laban party which successfully carried Duterte’s presidential campaign in the May 9 elections, said majority of the senators support Duterte’s program of government because they want the presidency of the Davao city mayor to succeed.
He said any investigation to be called by the Senate should not be considered a barrier or hindrance to Duterte’s anti-crime and anti-drug campaigns.
Pimentel sees Duterte’s warning to Congress not to throw a monkey wrench to his program was meant as a warning to protectors of criminal syndicates and to those who abuse their congressional powers to conduct investigations.
Although he is the lone PDP-Laban member in the Senate, Pimentel snagged the Senate presidency following behind the scenes discussions with officials of different political parties such as current Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, vice chairman of the pro-Aquino administration Liberal Party (LP) which as six members in the Senate; and Deputy Senate Minority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III, one of three members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
As a result, Drilon will be the incoming Senate President Pro Tempore while Sotto will be the Senate Majority Leader in the upcoming 17th Congress which opens on July 25.
Even if current Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano might try to rock the boat carrying Pimentel, Drilon and Sotto after failing to win the Senate presidential fight, Sotto said the coalition of Senate leaders and other senators favoring Pimentel is solid.
Cayetano earlier said that he had 18 senators who would vote for his Senate presidential bid.
To win, a candidate has to have a majority of 13 or more votes.
Sotto said there are 13 senators who have signed the resolution endorsing the Pimentel presidency and this number will increase after the arrival from abroad of other Senate members such as Senators-elect Manuel Pacquiao and Joel Villanueva.
Pimentel earlier said there are 17 Senate members who favor his becoming the 22nd President of the Philippine Senate.
In so far as returning Senator Panfilo M. Lacson is concerned, the Senate presidency of Pimentel has been “signed and delivered’’ and this could withstand any attempt by Cayetano to upset the apple cart.
Cayetano had hinted that the upcoming Pimentel Senate presidency might turn up to be obstructionist to Duterte’s programs as he cited opposition by Lacson and Senator-elect Leila de Lima to Duterte’s call for death penalty.
Contrary to Cayetano’s claims, Lacson said he supports the incoming President. (MARIO B. CASAYURAN)