Sotto set aside concerns that he could lose his alliance with Malacañang because of recent actions of the Senate.
Geremy Pintolo/File
Sotto vows to protect Senate independence
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - March 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III yesterday vowed to continue protecting the independence and authority of the chamber even at the risk of losing political alliances and support.

Sotto set aside concerns that he could lose his alliance with Malacañang because of recent actions of the Senate.

“Personal interests should never outweigh public welfare. I will always choose to fight for the independence of the Senate. That is the legacy that I would like to leave this institution when my term comes to an end,” he said.

Sotto issued the statement a day after leading his colleagues in challenging the unilateral abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States before the Supreme Court (SC).

In a petition, the Senate asked the SC to draw the constitutional boundaries on the roles of the chamber and the executive branch in the cancellation of international agreements and treaties.

Last week, the chamber also adopted Senate Resolution 40 expressing the sentiment of senators that the National Telecommunications Commission should issue a provisional permit to ABS-CBN, whose application of renewal of franchise is being opposed by President Duterte’s allies.

The filing of the petition and the adoption of the resolution, among other developments in the Senate, spurred rumors that Duterte’s allies in the chamber were plotting to oust Sotto.

The Senate President said the petition was meant to “assert the sense of the power of the Senate that we know and we think that we have.”

Prior to the petition, the Senate also adopted Resolution 337 that asked the SC to make a ruling.

Sotto insisted that senators must be consulted on vital matters, like the termination of international agreements and treaties, just as its concurrence is required before the same are ratified.

“This role is particularly important to ensure that the power to forge partnerships with our neighbors and allies remains impartial. The Senate must do its part in protecting the checks and balances in our government,” he said.

He reiterated his commitment to always put “a premium on public welfare and the interests of the Senate” over his personal concerns.

Last week, senators went into a closed-door meeting to resolve issues as the moves of the Senate leadership to assert the independence and authority of the chamber had created a rift among them.

Allies of Duterte, particularly Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, lamented that the moves blurred the lines between those belonging to the majority and minority blocs.

One of the proponents of the petition and the resolution is Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

Last week, Sen. Panfilo Lacson issued a statement seemingly chiding his colleagues for their apparent “blind loyalty.”

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