Pimentel, Hontiveros confirm they are now ‘forming’ Senate minority bloc

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senator Risa Hontiveros are now in the process of ironing the details of how they will lead the minority bloc in the Senate should there be no other senators who would join them in the group.

In an interview on CNN Philippines, Pimentel said Hontiveros has agreed to vote for him as the next Senate minority leader if other senators won’t join the bloc.

“If ever it will only be the two of us, Senator Risa and myself, then we have agreed that she will nominate me or she will vote for me as minority leader,” Pimentel said in the televised interview.

Pimentel explained they can only know the final composition of the minority group after the Senate president in the 19th Congress has been elected.

“It’s only after that vote that we will look around and find out who these people are and then we have now to meet who is our minority leader,” he said.

Sought for comment, Hontiveros affirmed they have yet to decide on the matter but is now closely working “on forming the minority.”

“I would be honored to nominate him as Minority Leader, or to serve as minority leader myself, if that’s what we finally decide,” Hontiveros said.

“For now, we’re working closely together first on forming the minority,” she stressed.

Nevertheless, Pimentel said he is still optimistic that Sen. Pia Cayetano and Senators-elect Alan Peter Cayetano and Francis "Chiz" Escudero would be joining the minority bloc in the 19th Congress.

“I want to be optimistic that the minority can still consist of the following: Senator Risa Hontiveros, myself, probably the two Cayetanos, Pia and Alan, and really being super optimistic, we may even have Chiz Escudero,” the senator said.

“So five out of 24. That is the maximum I think that we can get," Pimentel added.

Should this happen, Pimentel said he is certain they would be a “formidable group” since four of them—Alan, Pia, Escudero and himself—are lawyers.

Pia Cayetano, however, has remained mum about the issue. Her brother, former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, had earlier said he has yet to decide whether he would join the minority bloc or the majority bloc, which is poised to elect Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri as the Senate president.

Alan Cayetano, who ran as President Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections, had repeatedly called out now President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. over his family’s ill-gotten wealth during a vice presidential debate.