Sotto takeover seen next week

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By MARVIN SY

Ma­jor­ity Leader Vi­cente Sotto III is ex­pected to be in­stalled as Se­nate pres­i­dent next week af­ter 14 mem­bers of the ma­jor­ity bloc for­mally elected him as the cham­ber’s new leader.

Sources said the res­o­lu­tion nam­ing Sotto as the next Se­nate pres­i­dent were signed by Sen­a­tors Gre­go­rio Honasan, Sonny An­gara, Cyn­thia Vil­lar, Juan Miguel Zu­biri, Sher­win Gatchalian, Joseph Vic­tor Ejercito, Richard Gor­don, Nancy Binay, Loren Le­garda, Joel Vil­lanueva, Fran­cis Es­cud­ero, Manny Pac­quiao, Pan­filo Lac­son and Se­nate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore Ralph Recto.

Sen. Grace Poe is ex­pected to sign the res­o­lu­tion to­day.

There are 17 mem­bers of the ma­jor­ity bloc, in­clud­ing Se­nate Pres­i­dent Aquilino Pi­mentel III and Sotto.

Lac­son said the other day there has been a con­sen­sus among the mem­bers of the ma­jor­ity bloc to elect Sotto as the next Se­nate chief.

Lac­son said it was not a mat­ter of whether or not Pi­mentel would be re­placed and who would re­place him, but rather when this would hap­pen.

A cau­cus of the ma­jor­ity bloc sen­a­tors has been set on Mon­day to take up the lead­er­ship change is­sue.

The cau­cus is in­tended to pro­vide the sen­a­tors the op­por­tu­nity to ex­press their views to Pi­mentel and for him to air his sen­ti­ments as well.

Pi­mentel is ex­pected to ask for an ex­ten­sion of his term as Se­nate pres­i­dent, which he ad­mit­ted is what he prefers per­son­ally.

How­ever, he said he will re­spect the wishes of his col­leagues and ac­cept what­ever de­ci­sion they come up with.

Pi­mentel is run­ning for re­elec­tion next year and be­cause he has to fo­cus on his campaign and also on the other can­di­dates of PDP La­ban of which he is pres­i­dent, it has be­come in­evitable for him to step down as Se­nate pres­i­dent.

But since the fil­ing of cer­tifi­cates of can­di­dacy will only start in Oc­to­ber this year, Pi­mentel can tech­ni­cally stay on, de­pend­ing on what his col­leagues agree upon dur­ing Mon­day’s cau­cus.

Sotto was al­ready be­ing groomed as Se­nate pres­i­dent be­fore the start of the 17th Congress last July 2016 but an agree­ment was reached to al­low Pi­mentel to as­sume the post first in def­er­ence to his be­ing pres­i­dent of PDP La­ban.

From the start, many of the sen­a­tors were aware of a termshar­ing agree­ment be­tween Pi­mentel and Sotto.

But this was nei­ther for­mal­ized nor taken up since the start of the 17th Congress.

A meet­ing among the ma­jor­ity bloc sen­a­tors was held last week at the res­i­dence of Zu­biri where the Se­nate lead­er­ship is­sue was re­port­edly taken up.

Pi­mentel was not present at that oc­ca­sion since he was out of the coun­try then and none of the sen­a­tors who were there would ad­mit that the Se­nate lead­er­ship is­sue was dis­cussed.

Ac­cord­ing to one se­na­tor, once an agree­ment has been made among the ma­jor­ity bloc sen­a­tors, then any one of them can ei­ther man­i­fest the res­o­lu­tion they signed elect­ing Sotto as the Se­nate pres­i­dent dur­ing the ple­nary ses­sion or Pi­mentel could opt to step down be­fore the res­o­lu­tion is read.

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