Duterte will respect independence of Congress – Cayetano

MANILA – Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday said presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte will respect the independence of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Cayetano made the assurance as posturing for Senate presidency heats up among at least four aspirants including himself, Duterte’s running mate who already conceded his defeat.

”He’s not declaring public support because he knows that the Senate as institution is independent. But when and if asked in public, he will express anyway and all presidents have done that in the past,” Cayetano told the media before the resumption of Senate regular session.

When asked if he is interested to Senate presidency, Cayetano said he would be hypocrite if he would not admit about it.

”I think everyone is interested in the Senate Leadership. So I mean, let’s not be hypocritical about it. But it’s really a consensus,” Cayetano said.

Other senators and their respective groups eyeing for Senate presidency include the Liberal Party (LP) bloc headed by incumbent Senate president Franklin Drilon, deputy minority leader Senator Vicente Sotto III, and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel Jr., president of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which endorsed the candidacy of Duterte.

”Anyone can run. The President will not have an official candidate but of course, meron siyang napupusuan. In deference to the institution and the presumptive president, I will not reveal kung ano ang pinag-usapan namin,” Cayetano said.

”But even the others, there have been some senators na sila ang nag-tanong, hindi sila ang sinabihan. Sila ang nag-tanong so sinagot din sila kung sino ang gusto,” he added.

Sotto, for his part, said his group was not particularly eyeing him but some individuals were pushing him to the top Senate post.

”The important thing is that we’re working the vision, the goal of the group – to help the Senate that is independent but is in a working relationship with the incoming president,” Sotto said.

Drilon said it would be too early to talk about the Senate presidency but “anyone who wants to unseat me would have to get the gift from the 13 senators.”

”We will focus first on the canvassing of votes cast for president and vice president starting tomorrow,” Drilon told the media.

Drilon said the six LP members in the Senate remained intact, referring to partymates incumbent Senators Recto, Benigno Aquino III and incoming Senators Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan, Joel Villanueva and Risa Hontiveros.

Drilon said he was not surprised about reports that some of the LP congressmen have jumped ship to the group of Duterte’s allies at the House of Representatives.

”In the House, that has happened in the past. I am generally informed that the House LPs will not leave the party but would seek an alliance,” Drilon clarified to the media. Jelly Musico/PNA/northboundasia.com