Senators say no move to oust Kiko from Senate panel

Published July 15, 2020, 3:36 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senators said on Wednesday that they are not aware of any move to oust Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as head of their constitutional amendments panel.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

The alleged “#OustKiko” petition trended on Twitter after Pangilinan’s daughter, Frankie Pangilinan, claimed in a series of tweets on Tuesday night that the opposition senator’s detractors are seeking his removal as chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes in a bid to “make constitutional changes” to address the COVID-19 crisis.

The tweets have been deleted.

“Ako (ang) SP wala ako(ng) naririnig (I’m the Senate President and I have never heard of such). Mabuti pa sila, maraming alam (Good for them, they know a lot). Better ask the mongerers,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III told reporters on Viber.

He said the claim was just made up.

Sotto’s deputy, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, said he was also not aware of any move against Pangilinan.

Sen. Joel Villanueva said he has yet hear anyone from the Senate Majority Bloc who could be interested in Pangilinan’s committee. “Honestly, ngayon ko lang narinig ‘yon (I only heard of it now),” he said in an online briefing, saying that such matters are usually dealt with in the Senate “in a civil manner.”

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon dismissed it as a “feeble effort by the one managing the troll farm to amend the Constitution.”

In the Senate, members of the majority bloc are first allowed to choose their preferred committees to chair, while the remaining committees will be given to the minority.

Pangilinan has been leading the constitutional amendments panel since the 17th Congress.

In a text message, Pangilinan said he is ready to give up his post if asked by the Senate leadership “but certainly not because of the ‘clamor’ of paid online trolls.”

“Besides, the argument that the problem of COVID[-19] will be solved by Charter Change is quite frankly out of this world,” he added.

The Senate has since maintained a careful stance about revising the 1987 Constitution as its members are unconvinced on its urgency and rejected “self-serving” proposals from their fellow lawmakers.

Sotto said last year that Charter change is not among the Senate priorities in the 18th Congress.