No consensus on LP bet for Senate president; talks with other parties on

May 31, 2010

Kris Bayos
Manila Bulletin
May 31, 2010

Elected senators from the Liberal Party met last week but failed to get a consensus on an official candidate for Senate president.

LP president and vice presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II hosted a dinner for apparent President-elect Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Franklin “Frank” Drilon, Ralph Recto, Teofisto “TG” Guingona, III at his residence in Quezon City last Thursday.

The dinner, also attended by LP campaign manager Florencio “Butch” Abad, turned into a caucus to decide on who the LP will officially field as candidate for the leadership of the Senate.

Of the four incumbent and incoming lawmakers, Pangilinan, a former majority floor leader and the most senior of the LP senators, and Drilon, a former senate president and chairman of the LP, are vying for the coveted post.

“We met but no decision was made. The agreement is that there will be only one candidate from the LP. We are still in the process of arriving at a consensus within the party,” he told the Manila Bulletin in a text message.

Despite the delay in the selection of LP bet for the Senate president, Pangilinan said there was progress on their talks with other senators from different parties.

“We are reaching out to other non LP senators because we recognize that the LP alone cannot secure the needed 13 (votes) to elect a new Senate president come third week of July,” he said.

Although Pangilinan did not name names, a reliable source from his camp said the LP sees prospective allies in Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III and Panfilo “Ping” Lacson. The source added that “courting” outgoing Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., Manuel “Lito” Lapid, and Juan Miguel Zubiri “is possible” since “these senators will choose to ally with others except with Senator Manuel ‘Manny’ Villar Jr.”

Although Villar, Aquino’s bitter rival for the presidency, did not announce his intention to reclaim his former post, his ally, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has already claimed that he has the numbers to be reelected as Senate president.

Earlier, Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada yielded to Quezon City Rep. and outgoing Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr. in the race for House speaker.

Asked if they will advice Pangilinan and Drilon to give way to one another for the sake of party unity, Tañada and Belmonte both said they are banking on the two senators’ wisdom to “know what is the right thing to do.”

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