Sotto says it's a bad idea to be in the Senate minority under Marcos-Duterte admin

Published June 25, 2022, 10:38 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Outgoing Senate President Vicente Sotto III believes that it’s a matter of perspective whether or not now is the best time to be in the minority bloc in the 24-member Senate.

Sotto explained that now is not exactly ideal to be in the Senate minority in the coming administration considering that 31 million Filipinos voted for President-elect Ferdinand ‘’Bongbong’’ Marcos Jr. and 32 million Filipinos voted Vice President-elect Sara Duterte.

‘’Kasi if you’re asking from the perspective of mere the Senate alone, yes perhaps, maybe. Because medyo mag-uumpisa, mangangapa (Because it is just starting, it will be feeling its way around). So siguro mas mabuti na ‘fiscalizer’ ka (It might be be better if you act as ‘fiscalizer’), but if you’re looking at the entire government, not exactly,’’ Sotto told Senate reporters.

‘’Ano ba pinapaguusapan mo, yung Senado lang or yung entire country (What are you talking about, the Senate alone or the entire country?). Yung entire country, it is yet to be felt kung magandang mabuti na nasa minority ka (It is yet to be felt that you are in a good position if you are in the minority). If you’re talking about the Senate alone, okay siguro lalo na konti lang kayo (it is better to be in the minority now that you are few in numbers),’’ he explained.

Sotto stressed that the number in the minority bloc is not really important if one knows how to skin the cat.

‘’A single member of the Senate may filibuster the entire Senate, in so many ways. It’s called parliamentary strategy and given the fact that in the Senate there is no cloture, unlike in the House of Representatives, there are time limits. In the Senate there is no time limit, there are no time limits. Therefore, in the Senate there is not cloture,’’ he pointed out.

Sotto said cloture is a rule and a tradition at the same time.

He said that it has always been the case in the Senate that there are members of the majority, who are titled members of the majority, but act as if they are members of the minority.

So far, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and Senator Pia Hontiveros are the members of the Senate minority bloc in the upcoming 19th Congress.

Pimentel is the son of the late Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., a political enemy of Bongbong’s father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Whether the Cayetano siblings – Alan Peter and Pia – will join the Senate minority bloc remains to be seen.

In the 2016 vice presidential race, former Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, roundly criticized the martial law administration of Bongbong’s father.

Senator-elect Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said he would join the Senate majority bloc if it hands to him the chairmanship of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

But outgoing Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he had offered the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairmanship to Senator Francis Tolentino.

Zubiri is seen as the incoming Senate President in the 19th Congress, which will start on July 25.

Senator Pia Cayetano said she wants to talk to Pimentel, who plans to build a “dream minority”.

‘’I think you guys know me well enough that I really don’t like politics. I just like to do my work well. So I go into this as friends, mag-uusap lang kami as friends (we will talk as friends). Ganun lang (that’s it). So wala akong prepared answer, wala akong agenda (I have no prepared answer, I have no agenda),’’ Cayetano told Senate reporters.

She said she has not really sat down with her brother to discuss matters in more detail as both feel that the 19th Congress is still a month away.

‘’And people deserve a break naman, nagpahinga din yung ibang senators (People deserve a break. Other senators also need rest),’’ she added.

Asked where she would place herself, Cayetano replied: ‘’I think my most important role is to be a role model in the Senate, to ensure that we pass meaningful laws, to always fight the good fight, to not get tired to discuss issues kahit bugbog na… sa talo… (even if pummeled during debates) to continue to find inspiration and strength to keep on fighting these good fights because that is what I was elected for, and that is my role.’’

‘’So how I will do that? I think it’s quite simple to just look at my track record. I was in the minority, from what I recall, it was just one Congress, and I think it wasn’t even a whole Congress kasi nagkaroon ng parang coup (a coup took place) at that time. I cannot even distinguish the role I played whether majority ako or minority because I was grounded on a very simple principle: I do my best, I fight for the Filipino people,’’ she added.