As the most senior of the incoming batch of new senators, Loren Legarda is the most qualified to lead the Senate in the 19th Congress following her track record, outgoing Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Sunday.
Legarda, who ranked No. 2 in the May 9 senatorial race, was a three-term senator, the only woman Senate Majority Leader, and Senate finance committee chairperson, Recto and Legarda’s allies said in a statement.
They also said Legarda, coming off a stint as House Deputy Speaker after representing Antique in Congress in the last three years, “is capable of leading her colleagues with her intelligence and charisma” aside from being “industrious and having work done immediately.”
Outgoing Senate President Vicente Sotto III said his successor must possess a mastery of parliamentary rules and procedures, must be a consensus builder, independent-minded and stern but compassionate.
But the former journalist is expected to face stiff opposition from Senator Cynthia Villar, a known supporter of presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Villar is a leader of the Nacionalista Party – the former party of Marcos — led by her husband and tycoon Manny Villar.
With 23.9 million votes, Legarda trails topnotcher Robin Padilla, who has 26.5 million votes in the partial unofficial Senate poll.
Others poised to join them in serving six-year terms in the Upper Chamber are Raffy Tulfo, Sherwin Gatchalian, Chiz Escudero, Mark Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, Miguel Zubiri, Joel Villanueva, JV Ejercito, Risa Hontiveros, and Jinggoy Estrada.
Legarda, who was voted No. 1 senator twice in 1998 and 2007, is respected by various sectors and has been known globally due to her advocacies on environment and disaster preparedness, the Recto group said.
The Antique lawmaker is currently a UNDDR (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, formerly UNISDR) Global champion for resilience, a Global Leader for Tomorrow of the World Economic Forum, and a Global Ambassador for Disaster Risk Reduction, they added.
But according to an ABS-CBN report, even before the May 9 elections, Villar was already in discussions to become Senate President, while Marcos’ sister, Senator Imee Marcos, would become Senate President Pro Tempore.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who is also in the senatorial “Magic 12,” is being groomed by the Villar camp to return as Senate Majority Leader, the report added.