MANILA — In a first stand-off between two old-time parties — the Liberal Party versus the Nacionalista Party — the race is on who would emerge as the Senate president: Francis Pangilinan or Manny Villar. Or as a remote possibility, if odd-makers have it, current Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile may yet retain his seat.
It all now depends on a crucial horse-trading and whichever party gives in for more concession, an eventual senator president may soon emerge after vacationing senators come back and attend a full session to elect their new leader on Monday, July 26. And a vote from a bloc of senators not belonging to either party may provide the winning vote.
Senator Edgardo Angara on July 20 maintained that his seven-man bloc remains solid in the Senate. However, he did not divulge which way their vote will go. He said they will make a “consolidated decision” on Wednesday after Senators Bong Revilla and Loren Legarda return from abroad,
Angara admitted that they are taking every precaution not to send the wrong signals as to who they prefer. “As a group, we will be solid in supporting our candidate for the Senate leadership,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
He emphasized they would select a leader one who embodies the ideals of leadership of the Senate: autonomy as an institution, shared goals for legislative reform agenda and positive-constructivist approach to the new administration.
Angara’s seven-man bloc is believed to be the deciding factor in the race for the Senate Presidency, having the most number of members.
Senators Gregorio Honasan, Tito Sotto, Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla, Loren Legarda, and Juan Miguel Zubiri are included in Angara’s bloc. In a press statement, Angara said that both camps of Senators Pangilinan and Villar continue to pursue his bloc in an effort to obtain the required 13 votes to win the Senate presidency.
A senator needs 13 votes to secure the Senate presidency, which reportedly gives Angara’s group the upper hand to make that happen. On Monday, however, Senator Tito Sotto revealed a potential crack in Angara’s claim. Sotto said that although he belongs to Angara’s coalition, it did not mean he will vote as a bloc.
He also said Angara would vote with Honasan. Although Sotto said that both Angara and Honasan cannot support Pangilinan due to political implications, he also that that it did not automatically mean they will vote for Villar either. If it is possible, he said, they prefer current Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to remain in the post.
Senator Legarda is also considered as voting for Villar who ran with him in her quest for the vice-presidency. As this developed, Pangilinan now claims to have earned the support of Revilla and Lapid, which Angara denied.
“That is not accurate. There’s no basis for that. I have no reason to doubt that we have Sen. Bong on our side,” he said.
Pangilinan is supported by his fellow LP members: Senators Franklin Drilon, Teofisto Guingona III and Ralph Recto. He also claims to have the support of Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Antonio Trillanes III.
For Villar, Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pilar Juliana Cayetano, Joker Arroyo and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who all ran under NP, are on his side.