- Senator Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III is also eyeing the Senate presidency in the next Congress
- Other emerging contenders are Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III
- However, Drilon could retain his position if none of the three could secure the majority vote of 13
MANILA, Philippines – Senator-elect Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III is reportedly being groomed by his party mates to be the next Senate president and would likely face emerging contenders Senators Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III and Alan Peter Cayetano in the coming 17th Congress.
Sotto, a Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) stalwart, won another term after placing third in the recently-concluded national election. He is the third NPC senator along with newly-elected Sherwin Gatchalian and incumbent Loren Legarda.
He is likely to face strong opposition from Pimentel, president of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party, and Cayetano of the Nationalista Party (NP).
Cayetano is Duterte’s runningmate who conceded defeat to Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo. While he has not made any official announcement about his plan to vie for the Senate top post, Cayetano has been rumored to join the contest.
Unlike Cayetano, Pimentel recently announced his intention to run for the Senate presidency; supposedly to ensure that Duterte’s legislative agenda for the country will be pushed through the Congress smoothly.
“As president of the party, I will aspire to be Senate President so that the agenda of the party and the President can be shepherded through the Senate,” Inquirer quoted Pimentel as saying during an interview with reporters.
Pimentel also sees his possible match-up with Cayetano as a ‘friendly competition’ for the commitment of their colleagues.
“In the end, we will have to work together,” he added.
Sotto joins contest
Senator Tito Sotto has also expressed his readiness to join the race for the Senate leadership; making it a three-way contest with Pimentel and Cayetano.
The actor-politician told Inquirer that at least nine of eleven of his colleagues he has spoken with are pushing him to vie for the top seat owing to his supposed ‘neutrality’ as compared to the other two contenders.
“Our group can provide an independent Senate with the incoming President. I want a Senate with integrity and independence,” Sotto said.
He also disclosed it would not be difficult for him to gather the majority votes among his colleagues as many have already vowed to support him in case he decides to seek the post.
While Sotto admitted NPC has forged an alliance with PDP-Laban to support the Duterte administration in its bid to solidify its ranks in the Lower House leadership, the agreement does not extend up to the Senate.
“It has never worked that way. The senators are all different republics,” Sotto told the Inquirer.
Drilon is the man to beat
Incumbent Senate President remains the man to beat in the Senate presidency contest.
Drilon is the topnotcher in the last May 9 poll and belongs to the Liberal Party, which has currently 7 members in the Upper House including Bam Aquino, Leila de Lima, Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, Joel Villanueva and Risa Hontiveros.
Pimentel is looking at a possible alliance with LP to secure the support of its members in his bid to win the top seat.
The independent senators whose votes could likely decide the outcome are Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, Richard Gordon, Panfilo Lacson, Grace Poe, and Migz Zubiri.
Senators Gregorio ‘Gringo’ Honasan, Nancy Binay, and Manny Pacquiao all belong to the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) while Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Cynthia Villar are NP members.
Senator JV Ejercito is a member of Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) while Senator Sonny Angara belongs to the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP).
In the event that none among Sotto, Pimentel or Cayetano secure the majority vote of 13, Drilon will retain his post as Senate President.