Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III defended the reshuffling of the Senate where Liberal Party senators were expelled from key positions.
During Monday’s plenary session, the motion submitted by Senator Manny Pacquiao ousted Sen. Franklin Drilon as Senate President pro-tempore, making him the new minority leader while Senators Bam Aquino, Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros were ousted from their committee chairmanships. This resulted in a pro-administration majority bloc in the Senate.
Despite assumptions claiming that the reshuffle process was a move instigated by the executive, Pimentel said that legislative work is being hampered due to instances where the majority would often end up in split decisions rather than a consensus. This has been observed in the reopening of the inquiry on the Davao Death Squad and the opposition regarding reinstatement of the death penalty. The Senator pointed out the reorganization was intended to achieve accurate decision making on legislative agendas.
New Senate President pro-tempore Ralph Recto confirmed that there is no such thing as destabilization attempts against the administration.
Acting Liberal Party President Senator Francis Pangilinan expressed his opposition regarding the motion.
“How can work in the Senate be hampered by the now minority senators, including four from the LP, when almost 70 percent (or 20 out of 29) of the bills now a couple of steps into becoming a law are being defended by us?” he asked yesterday.
“It is simply untrue that LP senators hampered the legislative agenda. How is this possible when two out of the administration’s three priorities – death penalty and the lowering of the criminal age of responsibility – are with the justice committee and not our committees? Also those who voted against the 2017 national budget, namely Senators (Panfilo) Lacson and (Sherwin) Gatchalian, did not come from the LP,” he added.
Pimentel assured that the Senate shall still remain independent while the administration affirmed that Duterte was not in any way involved in the motion.
Senator Pacquiao claimed that the action had been decided in a meeting he held in his home on Sunday where at least 15 senators attended and made their decisions on that matter. The Senator also claims that the President had no knowledge nor was his opinion sought regarding the matter.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said that the administration is hoping to establish a better working relationship with lawmakers in order to effectively create legislative measures.