The Senate will remain independent even with the possibility that allies of President Rodrigo Duterte would secure the majority of seats in the chamber after the May 13 midterm elections, reelectionist Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said on Friday.
Pimentel, president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), gave the assurance amid concerns that the Senate will be a rubber stamp of the Duterte administration should more allies―and less opposition members―win the 2019 senatorial race.
“Yes, [the Senate will still be independent] after this election, [even with] the [new] composition. Ganoon naman po kami [We have been like that ever since],” Pimentel said and stressed that President has not meddled with the work of the legislative branch, particularly the Senate.
“In the first place, under the Duterte administration, he [President Duterte]does not interfere with our work,” the former Senate chief said.
“So even if we don’t want to be independent, we are actually independent because he does not interfere,” he added.
Duterte has also recognized the people’s right to express dissent against his administration, Pimentel added. He recalled the Chief Executive even endorsing senatorial candidates who criticize some of his policies.
He also noted that the Senate has consistently received high public satisfaction ratings in surveys.
Pimentel said he is happy that majority of administration bets were included in the latest Pulse Asia survey naming 14 senatorial candidates who have a statistical chance of winning in the midterm polls.
Duterte, however, recently said that Filipino voters must be allowed to choose freely in the upcoming polls.