By Javier J Ismael/Manila Times
Senate President Vicente Sotto has expressed confidence that there would be no changes in the Senate leadership because of the good performance of the chamber.
“I think because we have good relations and the performance of the 17th Congress was good, I don’t think somebody would attempt to touch the leadership… the present Senate is not pro-admin or pro-opposition, so why implement changes that might be opposed by the majority,” Sotto said in an interview over DWIZ radio.
He said it would be delicate to think of changing guards at this time. Senator-elect Francis Tolentino earlier claimed that senators belonging to the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) — Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd and Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao — intend to coalesce with their Nacionalista Party colleagues who ran under Hugpong ng Pagbabago and form the HnP bloc in the Senate.
Tolentino claimed that the HnP bloc that has yet to be formed already had nine members — Go, dela Rosa, Pimentel, Pacquiao, Cynthia Villar, Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano, Maria Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
Sotto, however, said his “Macho Bloc” has honorary members, which include “friendly” independents. These are Senators Mary Grace Poe and Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, and senator-elect Manuel “Lito” Lapid.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has said he will support Sotto. The minority bloc has three members — Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Maria Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros.
Nevertheless, Sotto said he was not worried if his leadership were challenged, because he only serves at the pleasure of the majority.A challenger needs 13 votes to become Senate President.
An analyst, however, said any attempt to change the Senate leadership might not be acceptable to the public.
“It will be a poorly thought out move if they immediately remove him (Sotto) from the Senate presidency. It will not be seen favourably by the public,” Antonio “Butch” Valdes, head of the Save the Nation Movement, said.
He added that the statement of Tolentino “is a strong message to Sotto of the existence of a bloc.” The Senate and the House of Representatives will jointly open as the 18th Congress on July 22.
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