Drilon: I'm openly giving up Senate presidency to Koko Pimentel
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Franklin Drilon said he is openly giving up the Senate presidency to give way to Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who is expected to assume the top post once the 17th Congress opens in July.
“Yes, no rancor. I didn’t aspire for it,” Drilon said when asked on relinquishing his post in an interview with ANC on Tuesday, June 14.
Pimentel, president of PDP-Laban, is the lone party mate of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte in the Senate.
Drilon, a staunch ally of outgoing President Benigno Aquino III, said he could have opposed the move but added that he recognizes the mandate of Duterte.
“Yes I am giving up my seat. I could have contested it, but I would like to show that since President-elect Duterte has that mandate, okay, we recognize that mandate," he said.
Drilon said the Liberal Party has 6 members in the Senate, while the Nationalist People's Coalition has about 3 or 4, while the rest are independent.
"But insofar as the PDP-Laban, only Senator Koko Pimentel is a member of the Senate. But nevertheless, the 16 of us decided that Senator Koko should lead the chamber in the 17th Congress,” he said.
Even if he has 8 senators supporting him, Drilon reiterated he no longer contested the post to provide “stability” to the chamber in the 17th Congress, which will open on July 25.
He earlier said 16 to 17 senators – 8 from the group of Drilon and another 8 from the group of Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III of the NPC – are backing the leadership of Pimentel. Under the revamp, Drilon will serve as the Senate President Pro-Tempore while Sotto will be the new Majority Floor Leader. (READ: Koko Pimentel will be new Senate President – Drilon)
“But I said, 'Let us provide stability as early as possible, so that in July 25, we hit the ground running.' Because we have a lot of things to do, and wrangling for the leadership of the Senate should be settled as early as possible, which is exactly what we did,” he added.
Meanwhile, when asked why they chose Pimentel over Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte’s running mate in the May 2016 polls, Drilon only had this to say, “Each one would have his or her own reason, but we thought that by way of showing our cooperation and support for President-elect Duterte, we elect a party-mate.”
Cayetano earlier said he already has the support of 15 senators. He circulated a resolution, which would be signed by senators supporting him. However, only senator-elect Manny Pacquiao signed it, also a supposed member of the pro-Pimentel bloc. – Rappler.com