Kiko warns against ‘No-el’ in Senate

July 20, 2010

Efren L. Danao
The Manila Times
July 20, 2010

Failure of the senators to elect a Senate President on July 26 would send the signal to the rest of the country that senators could not unite for national interest, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Monday. Neither Pangilinan nor his lone rival for Senate President, Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., has secured the 13 votes needed to win. This caused Sen. Edgardo Angara to raise the possibility of a stalemate on July 26 when the Senate holds its very first session in the Fifteenth Congress.

Pangilinan said the signal a leaderless Senate would give the people would not be good for the chamber as an institution. He urged his colleagues to set aside their political differences and “unite for genuine change and reforms,” while remaining independent.

“We will achieve very little if we do not unite. Our efforts to push for change will fall flat if we fail to come together, and we cannot solve our nation’s ills if we remain fragmented and disunited,” he said.

Pangilinan claims to have sewn up 11 votes, two shy of the required majority. He did not give names but the 11th is believed to include Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, who is detained at Camp Crame on charges of staging a coup d’etat, and fugitive Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

Swing votes
Trillanes supported Villar in the 2010 presidential elections but was reportedly now with the group of Villar’s rival. President Benigno Aquino 3rd ordered last week the review of the case filed against Trillanes, saying it was his personal view that there might have been a miscarriage of justice against Trillanes.

Angara said his group of seven senators would decide by Wednesday whom to support—Pangilinan or Villar. One member of the group, Sen. Loren Legarda, will break away should Pangilinan be their choice.
Legarda was the runningmate of Villar in the recently concluded presidential election.

There were also reports that two other members of the group, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla and Lito Lapid, had already decided to go for Pangilinan.

Angara said that reports about Revilla could not possibly be true, and he maintained that their group would still provide the swing vote in the still inconclusive race for Senate President.

The other members of the group are Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan 3rd.

Honasan had said he would vote for Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, if he were running. Honasan added that Enrile had never talked with him or tried to influence him on whom to vote for Senate President.

Angara said their choice would be based on whom they believe could maintain best the independence of the Senate while working for reforms.

Pangilinan said his closeness to President Aquino was based on a common agenda for reforms and that he would never be subservient to Malacañang.

Angara said that if they failed to form a working majority in the morning of July 26, he would propose an all-senators caucus to decide on an acting president who would co-preside with the Speaker of the House of Representatives at the joint session that afternoon to hear the first State of the Nation Address of the President.

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