Sotto takeover seen next week
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.