MANILA–It was more of a catching up event than an actual meeting, Sen. Joseph Vicente Ejercito said Wednesday describing the dinner he and fellow senators from the majority bloc had with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte last Tuesday night.
Ejercito said this was the first dinner with Pres. Duterte were most of the majority bloc – 15 of them –were present. He said that previous dinners only involved around seven to nine people.
Present were senators Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senate Pres. Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate and Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and senators Manny Pacquiao, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, Grace Poe, Miguel Zubiri, Sherwin Gatchalian, Dick Gordon, Nancy Binay, Loren Legarda and Juan Edgardo Angara.
Only three senators belonging to the majority bloc, namely Senators Francis Escudero, Gringo Honasan and Panfilo Lacson, were not present.
On Tuesday night, Ejercito posted a photo of their dinner on his official social media accounts. He said that the dinner ended at around 10 p.m..
Asked by reporters if the Senate reorganization was discussed, Ejercito said no.
“Hindi nabanggit. (It was not mentioned). It was more of personal, very light conversation. Parang kamustahan din. (It’s sort of like catching up as well),” he said.
“To be honest with you, wala kaming halos pinag-usapan na major issue. Ni hindi nabanggit yung aming mga investigation, walang binanggit. (We didn’t talk about any major issue. The Senate investigations were not brought up),” he added.
Ejercito said that the only “serious” topics discussed were the war against illegal drugs and tax reform.
He said that the President showed them a list of suspected drug lords which included barangay captains and other local officials and stressed the need to continue to campaign despite criticism.
The President also explained his desire to have an “acceptable” Tax Reform Measure Package since some senators had doubts on permitting it noting that it was “a bit steep.”
He, however, denied that the dinner was a “loyalty check” stressing that Pres. Duterte did not ask anything in particular from them.