By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Vicente Sotto III will most likely replace Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III before the latter files his certificate of candidacy (COC) for the 2019 midterm polls.
This was according to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who, in a press conference Thursday, said he was “privy” that the two Senate leaders have already agreed on who will take the place of the Senate President.
“I understand there’s already an understanding between Sen. Sotto and Sen. Pimentel. Pero kung kailan ie-execute o implement (But regarding when will this be executed or implemented), we do not know. Noon pa yan,” Lacson told reporters.
“Knowing Senate President Pimentel, di siya magbabago sa ganitong klaseng usapan (he would not change his mind about this kind of matter),” he added.
According to Lacson, Sotto may assume Senate presidency in June or July, before Pimentel files his COC in October.
“Magpa-file ng certificate of candidacy si Senate President Pimentel sa October (Senate President Pimentel will file his certificate of candidacy in October) so it’s either in June or July when we come back after sine die or October at the latest,” he said.
Sought to confirm Lacson’s statements, Pimentel, however, denied that he and Sotto had already reached an agreement.
“No agreement. But we will talk to Sen Sotto immediately upon arrival. Then hold the majority caucus,” said Pimentel, who is in Europe for a “scientific” visit to a nuclear power plant.
Sotto likewise said there was “no direct agreement” between him and Pimentel.
“No two senators can merely (decide) on any position of leadership. It is a consensus of majority of all the members if a leadership position is vested,” the Senate majority floor leader said in a separate text message.
Lacson later apologized for pronouncements.
“An apology is in order and is therefore offered to SP Pimentel. It was my understanding that a leadership change in the Senate between him and Sen. Sotto does exist,” he posted on Twitter around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
But Sotto, in a press conference last week, told Senate reporters that he and Pimentel had briefly discussed about the change of leadership as early as the beginning of he 17th Congress.
He some of his colleagues have asked him to take the place of Pimentel, who said he might step down as Senate chief to focus on his bid for reelection in the 2019 elections.
Sotto said he will not refuse should majority of the senators voted that he replace Pimentel.