Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who has declined to confirm if he is seeking the top Senate post, said many of the senators now have an idea on incoming president Rodrigo Duterte’s choice for the position.
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‘Senate presidency 80-90% sewn up’
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - May 24, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The race for the Senate presidency is “80 to 90 percent sewn up,” Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said yesterday.

Cayetano, who has declined to confirm if he is seeking the top Senate post, said many of the senators now have an idea on incoming president Rodrigo Duterte’s choice for the position.

Cayetano, however, declined to identify Duterte’s choice, saying, “he knows the Senate is an independent institution.”

“More or less, there is a consensus already. It is easier to get a consensus on who will be the next Senate president. It is harder to get a consensus on committee chairmanships and the legislative agenda,” he said.

Cayetano, Duterte’s runningmate in the May 9 elections, said all senators aspire to be Senate president, including himself.

“I think everyone is interested in the Senate leadership, but I think it will be a consensus. President Duterte will respect the independence of the Senate, of the House,” he said.

Apart from Cayetano, PDP-Laban president Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and Sen. Vicente Sotto III have also announced that they are eyeing the Senate presidency.

“These are all part of jockeying for positions. They are all qualified, they all have good platforms,” Cayetano said.

He said he has talked to Pimentel about the issue and they have a clear agreement on their direction as a group.

“So if he’s going to change direction, it’s really up to him,” Cayetano said.

In order to become Senate president, a senator needs to get at least 13 votes, representing a majority of the 24 members of the Senate.

However, in this particular case, Cayetano argued that the next Senate president might have to get a majority of between 15 to 18 votes because of what Duterte has presented as his legislative agenda.

“It’s not a matter of who will be Senate president. It’s a matter of forming a majority that can deliver the culture of effectiveness and efficiency to our people,” Cayetano said.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, who met with Duterte recently in Davao City, was among the senators who have asked Duterte about his choice for Senate president.

Ejercito said that it was his first question and this was promptly answered by the incoming president.

He also declined to identify who was Duterte’s choice, but said that it was either Cayetano or Pimentel.

Sotto, who claimed that he has nine to 11 senators backing him as the next Senate president, pointed out that historically, the candidate of the sitting president has never been elected based on his own recollection.

Senate President Franklin Drilon has refused to talk about the issue, but said that “anyone who wants to unseat me would have to get the gift from 13 senators.”

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