Senate opens 19th Congress sessions; Zubiri is new Senate President

Senators of the 19th Congress convened on Monday, July 25, with the election of new leaderships, marking the conduct of the first regular session.

Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri was elected Senate President while Senator Lorna Regina "Loren" Legarda was chosen Senate President Pro Tempore.

Taking his oath as Senate Floor Majority Leader was Senator Emmanuel Joel "Joel" Villanueva, while Senator Aquilino Martin "Koko" Pimentel III was designated as Minority Floor Leader.

Senate PRIB

Four senators, namely Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros and Pimentel, abstained from voting for the senate presidency, but vowed to cooperate with their fellow lawmakers.

Zubiri, who ran under the senatorial ticket of the President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in the May 2022 polls, assured the public of the Senate's independence, saying "never has the fate of the Senate been dependent on the hands of one man."

"This Senate will meet these big problems with bold thinking, and brave legislation, but most especially, and I am looking forward to this bipartisanship," he said in his speech, noting that the Senate, under his leadership, "will be one to solve problems more than it would find faults."

Legarda, who also ran under Marcos' slate, called on her colleagues to foster unity and good governance "for a free, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient progressive Philippines."

Villanueva vowed not to sleep or rest "until we finish our job"; while Pimentel, who will lead the two-member minority bloc, "will help maintain the independence of the Philippine Senate," according to Senator Risa Hontiveros.

The incoming senators of the 19th Congress include reelectionists Zubiri, Villanueva, Hontiveros, Sonny Angara and Sherwinin Gatchalian; comebacking lawmakers Legarda, Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Joseph Victor Ejercito, and Jinggoy Estrada; and neophytes Robin Padilla, Raffy Tulfo, and Mark Villar.

At 11:58 a.m., Zubiri adjourned the session until 4 p.m. to hear President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The 24 senators would be joining members of the House of Representatives at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City for the event.