MANILA, Philippines – Is the Liberal Party (LP) really the ruling party?
Sen Vicente “Tito” Sotto III objected to the reported bid of Nacionalista Party (NP) members for leadership posts in the Senate.
In an interview on Tuesday, June 25, Sotto questioned reports that NP’s Sen Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen Pia Cayetano are vying to be Senate President Pro-Tempore and Senate Majority Leader in the 16th Congress.
“Dapat ang mga opisyal ng Senado ay LP dahil sila ang timon sa coalition. Nanalo sila at sila ang uupong Senate President. Dapat hawak ng LP ang key positions sa Senado. ‘Pag NP ang may hawak ng leadership, marami ang magtataaas ng kilay at magtatanong, bakit kaya. Anong nangyari? Anyare?!”
(The officials of the next Senate should come from the LP because the LP is the leader of the coalition. They won and they will field the next Senate President. LP should hold the key positions. If it’s NP that holds the leadership, many will raise their eyebrows and ask why. What happened?)
Sotto added, “Sino ba ang nakaupo sa Malacañang, di ba LP? Hindi naman NP ah. Eh bakit puro NP ang ilalagay mong official sa Senate?” (Who is seated in Malacañang? Isn’t it LP? So why will you install Senate leaders from NP?)
The NP partnered with the LP for the May 13 polls, and will likely join the new Senate majority. LP stalwart Sen Franklin Drilon is widely expected to win the Senate presidency after the NP pledged support for him.
Sotto made his statement hours after NP president outgoing Sen Manny Villar said that his party has been assured of prime committee chairmanships. Villar said though that there are still “issues” in the negotiations.
Sotto and his allies in the bloc of resigned Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile are set to form the new Senate minority.
The resigned majority leader said he is not surprised by Villar’s statement that there are some problems in the LP and NP’s talks for committee chairmanships.
“Talagang nagkakaproblema iyan sa klase ng naririnig naming kwento …. ‘Pag may isa, dalawa na ‘di nagustuhan ang committeeng binibigay sa kanila, eh papalag iyon,” Sotto said.
(There will really be problems based on the type of stories I am hearing. If one or two will not like the committees given to them, they will raise their objection.)
However the negotiations turn out, Sotto said it is unlikely that the minority will align with the NP because Enrile “does not see eye to eye” with some of its members.
Enrile got into an ugly word war with the NP’s Sen Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen Antonio Trillanes IV over the Senate fund controversy and Trillanes’ backdoor negotiations with China last year.
Sotto and Enrile also engaged in heated debates with Sen Pia Cayetano over the reproductive health law.
Senate leaders are chosen by a majority vote of the 24 senators. At least 13 votes are needed to become Senate President, Senate President Pro-Tempore or Majority Leader.
Besides being a solid group, Sotto said the new minority plans to make good on its promise to hold the majority accountable.
Sotto said he and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Gregorio Honasan II agreed to maintain a good attendance record, and to bring to task members of the majority who fail to do the same.
The minority met last week with Vice President Jejomar Binay to discuss their plans for the 16th Congress. Most of those in the minority are members of Binay’s opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
“We expect the new majority to perform well and toe the line because we will definitely call their attention if there are things that are being mishandled or if there is no quorum or there are procedures that are not followed,” Sotto said.
While he was lax on attendance as majority leader, Sotto said this time he can afford to call out his colleagues as a member of the minority.
“We will be doing them a favor if we do that because when we were in the majority and I was majority leader, that was really my headache. The sponsor was absent, those who will interpellate were absent. In this case, they should be happy because we assure them: we will be president and we will inteprellate.”
Other members of the minority include senators-elect JV Ejercito and Nancy Binay.