Newly installed Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Monday that the Senate under his leadership will focus on solving problems instead of finding fault.
While probes are magnets for publicity, he said it is the policies—laws patiently written line by line away from the limelight—that drive progress.
“But for us to do our role, we must uphold the Senate’s proud tradition of being independent,” he said.
“And that is important because the Senate independence is the lynchpin of its two other hallmarks: industry and innovation.”
He recalled that generations of their predecessors exercised these to the benefit of the people.
In Monday’s session, 20 of the 24 senators supported Zubiri’s nomination by Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva.
Villanueva’s nomination was seconded by Senators Loren Legarda, Jinggoy Estrada, Grace Poe, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, and JV Ejercito.
No one objected when Villanueva later moved to elect Zubiri as the new Senate leader.
Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and his sister, Pia Cayetano, and Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Risa Hontiveros, the lone opposition senator who won in the last May 9 elections, did not cast their votes for Zubiri.
The Cayetano siblings said they did not participate in the voting because they want to remain independent.
Earlier, Alan Cayetano said he would join the Majority only if he would be given the chairmanship of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.
But Senator Francis Tolentino will head the committee after Zubiri offered it to him.
While he abstained from voting, Pimentel congratulated Zubiri and vowed to help the Senate succeed in the 19th Congress.
Hontiveros also abstained and later nominated Pimentel as Senate Minority Leader.
She said Pimentel, a former Senate President, will make an excellent minority leader.
Senator Loren Legarda and Villanueva were elected as Senate President Pro Tempore and Senate Majority Leader, respectively.
Legarda received unanimous votes from her colleagues while Villanueva obtained 23 votes as Senator Robin Padilla did not vote for him.
Lawyer Renato Bantug, executive director of the Senate for legislative matters and former chief of staff of Senator Franklin Drilon, was elected Senate secretary.