With new senators-elect proclaimed, work to organize blocs begins

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:59 a.m., May 19) — Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the lone opposition bet included in the senators-elect proclaimed on Tuesday, said she is hopeful that members of the opposition in Congress can remain a true and effective minority despite the prospects of supermajorities at the House and Senate.

The Commission on Elections proclaimed Hontiveros and 11 newly-elected lawmakers who are allies of the Duterte administration and bets of the "UniTeam" slate at the Philippine International Convention Center.

"Ako ay umaasa na may posibilidad na maipagpatuloy sa 19th Congress ang pagkakaroon ng isang tunay, gaano man kaliit, at epektibong minorya tulad ng meron kami ngayon sa outgoing 18th Congress," she said in an interview with reporters on Wednesday evening. 

(I'm hoping for the possibility that the 19th Congress will continue to have a true — even if it's just small — and an effective minority, just like what we have right now in the outgoing 18th Congress.)

Consensus is essential in passing legislation but the minority helps act as a check and can help scrutinize proposed bills.

Hontiveros said her "number one priority" is organizing the minority at the bloc at the Senate. Among those she is Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, a former Senate president from the administration PDP-Laban party. She said she is in talks with two other lawmakers.

"Makikipagtulungan tayo sa mga dati at bagong makakasama sa Senado upang ipaglalaban ang isang lipunang marangal, makatarungan, at may pagkakapantay-pantay," she also said at a speech at her proclamation.

(We will work with those we have previously worked with and with new colleagues at the Senate towards a a society that is honorable, just and equal)

Zubiri eyeing supermajority

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, another reelectionist who secured another term at the Senate, raised the possibility of forming a supermajority to help the administration pass important laws that will help the country rise from the effects of the pandemic.

"We're hoping that we can form a supermajority to be able to help the administration pass important bills necessary for the country to move forward and the country to grow," Zubiri said in an interview with reporters on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros), who was elected to another term as senator, has yet to decide which bloc he will join.

"If most of the members of the Senate decide to have a principled, independent Senate, then I could be part of the majority," Cayetano, a former House speaker, said.

"If most of them feel like...they will be part of this administration in a way that they feel they should not fiscalize, then I cannot be part of that," he told reporters in an interview. 

He added that he also will not consider being part of the minority if all it will do is "criticize" the government.




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