Gringo for JPE as Senate president

June 15, 2010

Efren L. Danao
The Manila Times
June 15, 2010

Sen. Gregorio Honasan said Monday that he would vote for Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile if he decides to run to retain his post. Enrile had already declared that he would not actively campaign for the Senate presidency in the incoming Fifteenth Congress. He said that it was up to his colleagues if they wanted to keep him as Senate president.

“Senator Enrile is my first choice. If he doesn’t run, then I’ll keep my options open,” Honasan said.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, who is reportedly eyeing the Senate presidency as nominee of the Liberal Party, said that Enrile remains a so-called dark horse in the race for the post. Former Senate President Franklin Drilon, the Liberals’ national chairman, has also expressed interest in regaining his old post.

“Enrile can be a compromise candidate if there is a stalemate,” Pangilinan said. “But if he could not get 13 votes, that would not look good. It does not speak well of the Senate if none of us could not even get 13 votes.”

He named Honasan as a potential ally of the Liberals after Honasan had declared it was time to move on and support the incoming administration of President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd. Honasan had supported the losing presidential bid of Sen. Manuel Villar in the May 10 elections. Villar, who was Senate president before the elections began, was also being prominently mentioned as a probable Senate president in the Fifteenth Congress.

Noynoy’s blessings

But Honasan clarified that his pledge of support for Aquino was program-based and would not necessarily involve support for the Liberal Party nominee for Senate president.

“That is why I am asking President-elect Benigno Aquino to immediately convene the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council [Ledac],” Honasan said.

The Ledac identifies the legislative priorities of the administration to enhance economic development.

Honasan has been mentioned as a member of the group led by Sen. Edgardo Angara. The other members of the group are Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Loren Legarda, Lito Lapid and Vicente Sotto.

“If Senator Angara said that I am a member of his group, then I will not contest that,” Honasan said.

Pangilinan said that the Liberals have four members and six potential allies who would vote for whomever the party will back—either himself or Drilon.

The four Liberal senators are Ralph Recto, Teofisto Guingona 3rd, Drilon and Pangilinan. The party’s “natural allies,” Pangilinan said were Senators Sergio Osmena 3rd, Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Francis Escudero, Vicente Sotto 3rd and Honasan.

The core group of the Liberal was set to meet this week.

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