MANILA — Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is in no danger of being ousted as the Senate top leader as his super-majority remains intact even if some members want certain senators out of the majority bloc.
“The leadership of Senate President Pimentel is strong,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said in a dzBB program on Sunday.
Lacson said he was among the right people to know the situation as he was one of the senators who started the super-majority that aligned with Pimentel from the start.
He acknowledged issues would arise within the super-majority whenever the four Liberal Party senators plus their LP-ally senator in the bloc would take an opposing position and side with the minority on certain matters.
This included the recent quarrel among some senators following the issue of which Senate committee should investigate the P50-million bribery scandal at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) involving casino mogul Jack Lam.
A heated exchange ensued between Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV last week after Trillanes lost the chance for his committee on civil service and government reorganization to head an inquiry on the BI bribery scandal. Trillanes had claimed that Zubiri and Sen. Richard Gordon, whose blue ribbon would start conducting hearings on Monday (Jan. 23) on the BI bribery scandal, were out to whitewash the inquiry, prompting a heated exchange between Zubiri and him.
The incident prompted two senators — Sen. JV Ejercito (who has since withdran his call) and Gordon — to call for LP senators to get out of the majority since they did not vote with the majority in stopping Trillanes from taking over the inquiry.
Lacson said the calls for LP senators to leave the majority triggered talks that Pimentel’s leadership might be in peril but he believed the Senate president’s leadership has remained strong despite these skirmishes.
“(Pimentel) will remain as SP…there is no danger the Senate President will be removed,” he added.
Lacson said he preferred the LP senators to remain in the super-majority as they have been contributing very much during debates in the Senate, especially Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon whose insights he valued.
For Monday’s (Jan. 23) Senate blue ribbon hearing on the BI bribery scandal, Gordon has called on Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III, BI chief Jaime Morente and former BI intelligence chief Charles Calima to testify during the inquiry.
Aguirre had sacked former BI deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Mike Robles for allegedly extorting P50 million from gambling tycoon Jack Lam for the release of 1,200 illegal Chinese workers of Lam’s casino in Clark, Pampanga. SFM