Opposition still hopeful for control of Senate

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE overwhelming majority of voters who gave the Senate to the opposition will not be disappointed because all 15 senators not allied with the administration will choose one of their own to head the chamber.

According to Senator-elect Loren Legarda, this was the joint message last Friday of nine senators—including three newly elected and six re-elected ones—who vowed to choose the next Senate president from among the 15.

The meeting was supposed to decide through a secret ballot who among the opposition would lead the Senate. The ballot did not take place.

Legarda said the pledge was contained in a joint press statement she signed with fellow Senators Benigno Aquino, Panfilo Lacson, Antonio Trillanes IV, Rodolfo Biazon, Mar Roxas and Jamby Madrigal.

She said Senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada concurred with the press statement by phone. Other non-administration senators who were absent during the signing of the document were Francis Escudero, Manny Villar Jr., Pia Cayetano, Alan Peter Cayetano and Francis Pangilinan.

The group considers Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel as the 15th non-administration senator, although he is still contesting the 12th and last Senate slot in the May 14 elections with administration candidate Miguel Zubiri.

Loren said there was a need for all non-administration senators to form a united front, adding she hoped the others who failed to sign the joint press statement for various reasons would be “one with us.”

In the May 14 elections, seven candidates from the Genuine Opposition made it to the “magic 12,” while independents Pangilinan and Gregorio Honasan also won. Only two from the administration Team Unity, Joker Arroyo and Edgardo Angara, were elected.

But the opposition in the Senate have to scramble to remain intact if they want to avoid ending up as the minority in the chamber.

Senator Arroyo observed that the opposition in the Senate was in disarray, something that could lead to a coalition between the allies of the administration and some oppositionists who did not want to join those present last Friday.

Based on Senate tradition, the majority will get to choose the president of the upper house.

Legarda admitted that “anything is still possible” in the Senate, but added that there was still enough time before Congress opened on July 23 for the opposition to unite and choose a leader.