Kiko: 9 senators now backing me

July 4, 2010

Marvin Sy
The Philippine Star
July 4, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – The tables seem to have turned on Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. in his bid to regain the Senate presidency now that the Liberal Party (LP) has finally made up its mind on its candidate for the position.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who was chosen by the LP as its candidate for the Senate presidency last Friday, has claimed that he already has the backing of nine senators.

That leaves just four more votes for Pangilinan to bag the Senate presidency based on the chamber’s rules that a simple majority is needed to secure the top post.

Prior to the LP’s announcement of their choice last Friday, Villar was supposedly the man to beat for the Senate presidency.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago even aired her belief that Villar already had the Senate’s top post in the bag based on her discussions with colleagues in the Senate.

However, it appears that Villar has just six votes right now, four of which belong to the members of his Nacionalista Party (NP).

Villar has cornered the votes of his NP colleagues Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Santiago, who ran under the NP as its guest candidate, would presumably vote for Villar along with Sen. Joker Arroyo who has long been allied with Villar, bringing the number to six.

Pangilinan, on the other hand, has the backing of his LP colleagues Senators Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto and Teofisto Guingona Jr.

He claimed to have five more senators backing his bid, including some “natural allies” of President Benigno Aquino III who is chairman of the LP.

He, however, declined to name the five senators but LP insiders revealed that they are Francis Escudero, Vicente Sotto III, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Sergio Osmeña III, who ran as LP guest candidate in the last elections.

Pangilinan also admitted that he has been talking to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who is currently detained because of his involvement in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

He said consultations were already done before the LP came up with a candidate, and now that a choice has been made, he would start meeting with his colleagues in the Senate again to get their support.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, who claims to have six solid votes on his side, leads the bloc that could provide the necessary numbers for either Pangilinan or Villar to secure the Senate presidency.

Earlier this week, Angara said his group of six has been talking to Villar, Pangilinan and Drilon on the issue of the Senate presidency and urged the LP to immediately decide whom it was going to field between its two members.

Angara said his group would vote as a bloc, which represents one-third of the membership of the Senate.

Aside from Angara, the group is composed of Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Ramon Revilla Jr., Gringo Honasan, Manuel Lapid Jr. and Sotto.

Angara said Sen. Loren Legarda would have been part of their group but she has indicated that she would support Villar’s bid, which is expected considering that she was Villar’s running mate in the May 10 elections.

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