Drilon congratulates Zubiri as incoming Senate president, says next contest is in the minority leadership race

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday congratulated Senators Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Cynthia Villar for finally resolving the impasse regarding the Senate presidency.

Drilon issued his congratulatory statement after Villar conceded in the Senate presidential race in favor of Zubiri.

Zubiri is now poised to be the incoming Senate President in the upcoming 19th Congress under the Marcos administration.

“Let me extend my congratulations to both of them for having provided stability to the situation in the Senate early enough so that we can all go back to work,” Drilon said during an interview with Senate reporters.

All that is now left is for the next Senate leader to choose the right chairman for the right committee.

The outgoing senator, however, said the “next contest” is now on the Senate minority leadership race.

So far, only Senator Risa Hontiveros, according to Drilon, is the real opposition lawmaker in the Senate.

“Strictly speaking, only Sen. Risa Hontiveros can be considered an opposition having been elected as Akbayan (senator) and as part of the ticket of Vice President Leni Robredo,” Drilon said.

So far, he noted that Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has also expressed his intention to join the Senate minority bloc in the next Congress.

But the Cayetanos—both Sen. Pia Cayetano and incoming senator Alan Peter Cayetano—are reportedly planning to join the minority bloc.

“If that happens, then the fight would then be who is the minority leader?” Drilon pointed out.

Drilon recalled that the Supreme Court had earlier ruled in the case filed before by former senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Sen. Francisco Tatad when they sought the ouster of then Sen. Teofisto Guingona, Jr, as the minority leader and asked that Tatad be declared as the rightful minority leader.

“They claimed that they are in the minority and the minority leader cannot be designated by the majority,” Drilon recalled.

“If you notice that is what happens in the House. The House Speaker recognizes the minority leader. In the Senate, that is not followed strictly, because the Senate President, would ask the minority, who is the minority leader,” he pointed out.

“So it would be interesting to see what will happen in the coming Congress,” he said.

Pimentel used to be the Senate President, while Alan Cayetano used to be the House Speaker.