Drilon named 18th Senate head
- by bonares () - April 13, 2000 - 12:00am

Newly elected Senate President Franklin Drilon vowed yesterday to maintain the independence of the Senate while keeping it a center of stability as well as a force for change.

"With all humility, I accept the post of president of the Senate, aware of the circumstances in the country today and the challenges that face our democratic institutions," Drilon, 55, said in his acceptance speech after his unanimous election.

In a media forum earlier, Drilon pledged to work for the passage of bills needed to further reform the country's economy.

"I feel that there are a lot of stumbling measures that need changes to develop a competitive business atmosphere. I can assure you of smooth transition in the Senate. I will bring together the different ideas that are most acceptable and most beneficial to the country," Drilon said during the media forum at the Ciudad Fernandina in Greenhills, San Juan.

After taking his oath at the Senate yesterday, Drilon said he was accepting the trust of the senators "in full knowledge of the crucial role the Senate must play during these crucial times."

"It is time for the Senate, as an independent body, to reaffirm its historic role as symbol and expression of stability, as well as initiator, through law, of the reforms the country needs. Let no one doubt that the Senate can be both," Drilon stressed.

He said that aside from being a center of stability and a force for change, the Senate must also be a power for modernization, unity and justice.

"I propose to address the hunger for law and justice through a package of bills that are now pending in this chamber," Drilon said.

Drilon was unanimously elected Senate President after Senate Minority Leader Teofisto Guingona withdrew his nomination for the post by fellow Lakas Sen. Robert Barbers.

Guingona, however, vowed to continue fiscalizing the Estrada administration.

Drilon replaced Sen. Blas Ople who resigned as Senate president under a power-sharing scheme brokered by President Estrada last year.

Drilon and Ople agreed to divide the more than two years remaining in the term of Senate President Marcelo Fernan, who died of cancer on July 11 last year.

Ople will now revert to being the Senate President Pro Tempore. The majority post held by Drilon would go to Sen. Francisco Tatad, with Sen. Vicente Sotto III as deputy majority leader.

Ople nominated Drilon, with Sen. Raul Roco seconding the nomination.

"The position of Senate President is high and exalted. No more than 16 men have held it and it signals a challenge and an opportunity that would daunt even the bravest of men. I am confident that Sen. Franklin Drilon will lead us into the new millennium with honor and distinction," Ople said.

Roco, on the other hand, said of the present batch of senators, Drilon was only one of three who had also served in the executive department. Drion had served as labor secretary, justice secretary and executive secretary. Roco said that this would ensure Drilon's firm grasp of the role of the Senate in the constitutional checks and balances.

"The Senate is larger than any of its parts, and the Senate President is a little larger than the others. But still, it is the synergy of the totality and collegiality of the Senate that gives it a mark on the national life," added Roco, a former partner of Drilon at the ACCRA law office.

The turnover of the Senate leadership was attended by several Cabinet members, including Agriculture Secretary Edgardo Angara a former Senate President, and Transportation Secretary Vicente Rivera Jr.

Local officials led by Laguna Gov. Jose Lina Jr., Agusan del Norte Gov. Angel Amante and Surigao del Norte Gov. Francisco Matugas also attended the turnover ceremonies. --

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