At least nine senators including Sotto attended the birthday dinner of Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri at the latter’s house in Makati City on Wednesday.
Geremy Pintolo
Senate leadership change seen when session resumes
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 11, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A Senate leadership change is expected when Congress resumes session next week, with Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III seen to take over the reins of the chamber, sources said yesterday.

At least nine senators including Sotto attended the birthday dinner of Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri at the latter’s house in Makati City on Wednesday.

The possible replacement of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III was discussed among several other issues during the dinner, sources said.

Zubiri, in a text message, clarified that they only discussed “endo” and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and other matters.

“That’s all. Nothing malicious. It’s not like we plotted or anything,” he said.

Zubiri added Pimentel would have been invited to the dinner.

“But he is not in Manila,” Zubiri said.

Pimentel is on official trip to Europe and is expected to arrive today.

The Senate leadership change has long been privately discussed in the chamber owing to a supposed previous agreement between Sotto and Pimentel for term sharing.

“We all know that we will give SP (Senate President) Koko a graceful exit,” a senator present during the dinner said in a telephone interview, adding they thought it would be better if Pimentel himself would move for Sotto’s election.

“I think the leadership change could happen very soon,” the source said.

The source said many senators have gripes against Pimentel but “we’ve moved on and we’re looking forward to the future, and we still have no quarrel with him.” 

“He has not been quarrelsome with us,” the source said.

About 15 senators are expected to vote for Sotto as Senate president.

What the senators are waiting for is the decision of the Supreme Court on the quo warranto case filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno that is expected to be released today.

Pimentel and Sotto are expected to meet this weekend.

The decision on the quo warranto case is a factor because if Sereno remains in her post and she is impeached by the House of Representatives, Pimentel would have to remain at the helm of the Senate as a presiding officer in the impeachment trial, according to the source.

Another source said there would likely be no major changes in the committee chairmanships and Pimentel will be given a choice of what committee he prefers to chair.

Sen. Nancy Binay, who was among those present at the dinner, said she was leaving it up to the “elders” in the Senate to decide on the matter.

She said there was a sentiment that since Pimentel was running for reelection, it would be better if the chamber would be headed by someone not running in the 2019 polls.

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