13 senators go for Sotto; Villar disses Pacquiao move

Thirteen senators signed a resolution in support of the leadership of Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday, but Senator Cynthia Villar refused to sign it and confronted Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Manny Pacquiao over rumors spread by their partymate, Senator-elect Francis Tolentino, that she was interested in the post.

13 senators go for Sotto; Villar disses Pacquiao move
SENATE FACE-OFF. Not quite, with their backs against each other. One question raised Monday in the tug-of-war in the upper chamber while a resolution was being passed around for signature by Senator Manny Pacquiao (right) supporting Senate President Vicente Sotto III (left) was: Is there a move to declare the Senate presidency vacant? Mid-term elections front-runner Cynthia Villar (middle) did not sign the resolution. Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal
“Why do we have to sign this? Why are you getting me involved in your quarrel? Why are you like that?” Villar told Pimentel and Pacquiao when they asked her to sign the resolution.

“Get your partymate in line. Don’t drag me into your quarrel,” she said, apparently referring to Tolentino.

Tolentino had earlier floated a rumor that Villar, the frontrunner in the last midterm elections in May, would be pitted against Sotto in the upcoming 18th Congress which opens in July.

Newly-elected Senator Imee Marcos, also a Nacionalista Party member, said Tolentino was pushing for Villar to go against Sotto.

But Villar said the resolution was unnecessary because she supported the leadership of Sotto.

She also said she wanted to talk to her partymates, Marcos and Senator-elect Pia Cayetano, who are both abroad, about the resolution.

Villar said she wanted to make sure they were taken care of—a reference to the committee chairmanships that have yet to be assigned.

Villar said she was more interested in retaining the chairmanship of the Senate committees on agriculture and food and environment and natural resources that the Senate presidency.

In a separate interview, Pacquiao said he understands Villar’s sentiments and said he was neither surprised nor offended by her reaction.

At the start of the session, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon questioned the manifestation signed by 13 senators expressing support to Sotto since there was no ouster plot against the leader of the chamber.

“What is this Mr. President? Is there a motion to unseat? asked Drilon as he stood after Pacquiao presented on the floor the manifestation expressing unequivocal support to continue Sotto’s presidency in the coming 18th Congress which opens in July.

Drilon also inquired if the manifestation was on the agenda of the Senate session for the day to which Pacquiao replied that they were merely presenting a resolution to express support for Sotto’s leadership.

The minority bloc leader also quizzed Pacquiao if the submission would form part of the record or would it be a personal submitted to the Senate President.

Pacquiao responded they merely wanted to air their support to Sotto. At this juncture, Drilon reiterated that they have not heard any move to declare the Senate presidency vacant, so this is “awkward.”

Drilon also pressed Pacquaio, who, along with with Senator Panfilo Lacson spearheaded the manifestation, the reason for Villar’s refusal to sign.

“Did you inquire from her?” asked Drilon, pointing out that Villar of the Nacionalista Party was a member of the majority bloc in the Senate.

During Monday’s plenary session, Pacquiao said the senators who signed the manifesto include himself, Senators Gringo Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, Sherwin Gatchalian,

Francis Escudero, Aquilino Pimentel III, Nancy Binay, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sonny Angara, Joel Villanueva, and Ralph Recto.

The resolution expressed support to the current leadership for the new Congress to maintain the Senate’s independence and uphold its”proud tradition” of being the bastion of democracy.

According to reports, talk of a new Senate president arose following a tug-of-war between incumbent and incoming senators over the committee chairmanships for the new Congress.

Lacson earlier said a resolution would be routed among senators to serve as a vote of confidence in Sotto’s leadership. With PNA

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Topics: Vicente Sotto III , Cynthia Villar , Aquilino Pimentel III , Manny Pacquiao , Francis Tolentino
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