Thursday, 23 May 2013 08:00 Published in Headlines
The choice of both the Senate leadership and heads of the key Senate committees should be a decision not only among Liberal Party (LP) members but the alliance formed by President Aquino, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party (NP) said.
He hinted of a a possible clash in the race for the upper chamber presidency if it’s not amicably settled.
“I’m not closing the door (on the possibility of the) NP trying to make abid for the (Senate) presidency, depending on the direction of our relationship with them and their ‘treatment’ although we have no complaints so far,” he said.
Cayetano, one of the names that Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago earlier floated as a frontrunner in the top Senate post aside from the LP’s Sen. Franklin Drilon, practically confessed that he’s setting his sights on the position currently occupied by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
He, however, appeared not keen on having to slug it out with Drilon.
“I think everyone is interested. The question is, are you actively pursuing it. I’m not actively pursuing it,” Cayetano said in responding to queries on whether he’s interested in the post.
“If there is a consensus and Drilon will say ‘I don’t want it, I want Alan’ then I’ll accept it. Anybody would be a hypocrite to claim that they do not want it,” he said.
Cayetano emphasized the need to avert any scenario where the LP and NP, considered to be now the biggest bloc in the Senate in the coming 16th Congress if based on its party members, will be headed for a collision in choosing a common candidate.
“It should not happen because it would be an ugly scenario. If it will unavoidable that there will two from the coalition, it should be settled by consensus within the coalition to prevent it from battling it out,” he said.
“I don’t think it would be productive,” he said.
Cayetano, in a press conference with a select group of reporters, also revealed that he had met with his NP party mates but he did not seek out their support nor lured them to form a separate bloc.
“In the sense that we were not actively aspiring for it, it was a surprise (to hear it from Santiago). But we only discussed one topic, to make the LP and the NP otherwise known as the Team PNoy coalition work,” he added.
“So although we do believe that the Senate President should be chosen by consensus, his legislative agenda should be clear to all,” he said.
He also admitted meeting Drilon last Tuesday “but we didn’t talk much about the Senate presidency per se.”
“I told him that I told the people thorugh interviews that so far there’s no questions on his kind of. I think everyone has a good view and is supporting his leadership,” he said.
“Right now, I don’t see any competition firming up as of now but the question is are we all 18 and those from UNA (United Nationalist Alliance) are not part of it or will they be counted as part of the coalition?,” he said.
While the matter of choosing the next Senate president is still two months away, Cayetano underscored the need to create this early a mechanism to ensure that the coalition they formed will work.
The senator said, if he could have it his way, he would want his colleagues to refrain from forming a bloc not based on the strength of numbers or headcount per party so that “the people will see a different kind of Senate this time.”
And one of which is the matter of committee assignments being settled based on each of the senator’s “expertise”, regardless of whether the member is a neophyte or senior, he said.
“We can sit down and we in NP would it sana na hindi palakasan, hindi palakihan, sino ang mas senior ang pilian ng committee, but who is the best and the brightest for each committee.
“So these are the problems which I don’t think a traditonal setup in the Senate can address. When we say back to business or business as usual, what kind of business as usual meron tayo sa Senado? So we’d like to see that kind of partnership in the Senate with the executive rather than have pure politics,” he added.
On proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution, Cayetano said the issue can prove to be a deal breaker among Aquino’s allies in Congress.
The senator said that while there remains a coalition with the administration that is expected to be maintained even after the just-concluded elections, Palace cannot expect it’s allies to take a common stand on some of the crucial issues concerning the country.
“We cannot expect to take 100 percent position same (as that of the Palace) at all times. I don’t think it’s the right time to take up Charter change (Cha-cha) now. But I’m willing to consider the postponement of the barangay elections, especially, to strengthen it,” he said.
But the issue on Cha-cha can prove to be a deal breaker because it could be muddled by politics, Cayetano pointed out.
“I’m not against exploring how we can stengthen our attractiveness in the field of economics or investments. However I’m against tinkering with the Constitution concerning political provisions,” he said.
“I’d like to see and study it first. We can’t talk about chacha without a proposal. Let’s do the debates first,” he said.
On the matter of deferring the barangay elections, the senator said it need not be held simultaneous with the 2016 presidential polls.
“It can be in 2014, 2015
President Aquino’s Senate coalition will hold even after the opening of the 16th Congress, Sen. Franklin Drilon, bruited about as the strongest possible contender for the Senate top post after incumbent Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
The coalition holding together will result in Drilon securing the top Senate post.
“I am confident of the coalition holding, I don’t see any signs that it will break up and there is no reason I see that will cause it,” Drilon said in answering queries on the issue of the administration-led Team PNoy being a mere marriage of convenience.
Drilon further expressed belief that issues on politicking among his colleagues, that include the incoming new members, will now be set aside since elections are now over.
“The elections are over, the message now should be for those elected to buckle down to work and pursue the reform measures of President Aquino,” he said.
While Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel sees the coalition holding in the Senate, a matter which was also shared by Senator-elect Cynthia Villar, the latter remains noncommittal on the issue of supporting either of the two supposed frontrunners in the Senate presidency – Drilon and her partymate in the Nacionalista Party (NP), Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Between Drilon and Cayetano, Pimentel admitted his preference for rilon saying that the latter “will be a good choice but I think being the younger senator, I think he can easily be persuaded to support Senator Drilon.”
“As a mathematician, there are nine Team PNoy winners plus seven senators friendly with the President (Aquino) so nine plus seven is 16 and you only need 13 votes to elect the Senate president. So I would say that there would be a change in the Senate presidency and it would most likely be Drilon who would be Senate president,” he said.
Villar said her party will have to discuss first the matter on the Senate presidency and whatever decision they reach, they would have to bring it up with the Liberal Party (LP).
“If it’s (alliance with LP) for the welfare of the people and we see nothing wrong with it, then I I don’t see anything happening, any parting of ways in the future,” she said.
While Cayetano is a partymate, Villar is not discounting the possibility of Drilon being fielded for the presidency although on the matter of throwing support on the latter, she emphasized that their party is yet to discuss it among themselves.
“We foresee the Senate President coming from administration allies considering that pro-administration senators, both the incumbent and the newly-elected, are in the majority. So that’s not far-fetched,” she said.
“For the good of the country we’ll always be supportive,” she said.
The issue on Cayetano being fielded for the top Senate post had not been brought up among the NP members, she said, adding that his name cropped up only in news reports so far.
At present, there are current NP members and with Villar coming in as a new member, the numbers will still be the same since she will be replacing her husband, Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. whose term of office will expire in June 30.
“We’re the same bloc so I don’t find anything special about it,” she said.
Pimentel stressed the need in keeping the coalition in the Senate as its objectives include plans to pursue a common legislative agenda.
Drilon admitted that neither he nor Cayetano could claim numbers at this point since the issue has not been discussed among the senators and the possibility of other blocs emerging before the next Congress’ opening is not remote.
“As what (Senator-elect Joseph Victor) JV Ejercito Estrada who is neophyte in the Senate said, they could also try to make a bid (for the Senate presidency) so we’ll never know what will happen really. In fact he was quoted saying that he will not cast a vote for me. All I can say is that it need not be a unanimous vote. We only need 13 votes.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 08:00 Published in Nation
Law enforcers deployed near the known family compound of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. in Bacoor, Cavite attempted to conduct a search the premises of firearms at least three times but failed to secure a warrant from the court.
“According to our information, the police who surrounded our home applied to at least three judges for search warrants to search our home, but all of them denied the application,” Revilla revealed.
“Does the good (Interior) Secretary (Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas II), who is not even a lawyer, mean to say that all judges were wrong and that only he and his police are right?” Revilla added as he chided the Cabinet official.
Roxas reportedly is tossing the blame on the Cavite judge for failing to issue immediately a search warrant in the Revilla family compound as this led to the escape, supposedly, of the armed men with high-powered automatic firearms.
Six men who identified themselves as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were arrested last week near the Revilla residence for illegal possession of firearms but the others purported to be also carrying high-powered firearms, managed to escape before police could file charges of violation of gun ban and usurpation of authority against them.
The 32 policemen deployed in the area were pulled out only last Friday after the Cavite police provincial office (PPO) received a copy of the resolution from the court denying the motion for reconsideration for a warrant to search the Revilla compound.
“Is this MARtial law? Panahon na ba ng Mar Roxas Law (Is it time of Mar Roxas Law now)? I cannot understand Secretary Roxas’ obsession with me and my family. He claims not to take things personally, but his actions show otherwise,” Revilla lamented.
“Lahat mali, siya lang ang tama (We’re all wrong, he’s only right)? I don’t think so. If the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) have questions about the legitimacy of the NBI operations and operatives, they should settle their qualms with the NBI, not with me. I have nothing to do with the composition of the NBI Team that was dispatched to our aid after being continuously harassed by the PNP. All I know is that we sought the official assistance of the NBI, and the NBI responded to our request,” he said.
The senator, who is out to call for an investigation in the Senate on the incident, gave broad hints in taking retaliatory moves and in all likelihood, based on his own statements, be targeting Roxas.
Revilla further insinuated having in his possession some supposed evidence to back up his charges of supposed harassment committed by the law enforcers in trying to search their home of loose firearms.
“The good secretary also said he was on top of the situation and that the PNP operations against our family were legitimate and sanctioned by him. Mabuti at sinabi niya iyon para malinaw kung sino ang magiging accountable sa mga abuso ng PNP sa Cavite (It is good he said that, now it’s clear who would be held accountable on PNP abuses in Cavite),” the Cavite solon said.
“Remember, the PNP operations carried out by the same police unit, which resulted to the Atimonan massacre early this year, was also claimed by authorities to be ‘legitimate.’ Only when strong and stark evidence showing otherwise came out, that authorities made a turnaround. Sa dami ng ebidensiya na ilalabas namin sa tamang panahon, sigurado akong may kakain ng salita (With a lot of evidence we will present in a right time, I’m sure somebody will eat his words),” he said.
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