Angara, others set July 15 meet on Senate presidency

July 3, 2010

Mario B. Casayuran
Manila Bulletin
July 3, 2010

With 22 days before the July 26 opening of the 15th Congress, a seven-member swing vote in the Senate, led by former Senate President Edgardo J. Angara, meets on July 15 to decide whom to support in the probable two-man race of the presidency in the 24-man Senate.

Angara said some members of his group are still abroad, but they would meet in the next 11 days to decide whom to support: The Liberal Party or the Nacionalista Party (NP).

The LP formally chose last Friday former Senate Majority Leader Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as its official entry into the presidential race over former Senate President Franklin M. Drilon.

Pangilinan has nine votes, four votes shy of having a commanding lead over his nearest rival, Sen. Manuel Villar, NP president and a former Senate president.

He said he might get 13 votes this week or next week. Thirteen is the “magic’’ number to wrap up the presidential election.

There were reports that presidential sister, Kris Aquino-Yap, tried to meddle in the race for the Senate presidency, but Senators Pangilinan, Jose “Jinggoy’’ Estrada, and Juan Miguel Zubiri denied it. Her supposed presidential bet is Pangilinan.

As if to give the impression that he has already the Senate presidency in his bag, Pangilinan issued on Saturday a statement that he envisions well-coordinated efforts between the House of Representatives and the Senate in the coming 15th Congress.

“I would propose weekly coordination meetings between officials of both houses to speed up the legislative mill and shorten the time to

produce laws, and convening of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) monthly for tighter coordination between the Legislative and Executive departments,’’ he said.

The LP has only four members. They are Senators Pangilinan, Drilon, Ralph G. Recto, and Teofisto Guingona III.

There are also four NP senators. They are Senators Ferdinand R. Marcos II, Villar, Alan Peter S. Cayetano and his sister, Pilar Juliana “Pia’’ S. Cayetano.

The Villar camp has Senators Loren Legarda, Miriam Defensor Santiago, and Joker Arroyo as allies.

Angara identified the other members of his bloc as Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Ramon “Bong’’ Revilla Jr., Manuel “Lito’’ Lapid, Vicente Sotto III, Gregorio “Gringo’’ Honasan, and Legarda.

But Angara said Honasan has told him that he would not go with the bloc if Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile makes his bid for a re-election.

He said this is also true in the case of Legarda who said she would vote for Villar if Villar makes a serious bid for the presidency.

Legarda was Villar’s running mate in the May 10 presidential and vice presidential right.

He also said that he has met with Villar, Pangilinan, and Drilon in the fight for the presidency but the group has yet to meet and decide whom to support.

“Ayaw ko na (I am no longer interested),’’ Angara told Senate reporters when asked whether he might go for the presidency if the LP and NP bets could not come up with the “Magic 13.’’

He, however, stressed that his group is one-third the total number of senators as the constitutionally-mandated number of 24 is now down to 21.

He said Sen. Panfilo Lacson remained in hiding, trying to avoid being served arrest warrants for two murder cases.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV remained detained on charges of rebellion and coup d’etat; and President Aquino left the Senate with still three of his six-year term unserved.

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