Drilon on Senate shakeup: Not surprising, just numbers game

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — "After 19 years in the Senate, nothing surprises me anymore."

Sen. Franklin Drilon said Monday that the upper chamber shakeup, wherein he was booted out as senate president pro tempore, was "part of the life of the Senate."

"It's a numbers game. They have the numbers," Drilon said.

Drilon was replaced by Sen. Ralph Recto. His Liberal Party (LP)-mates also lost their committee chairmanships.

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, who used to be chair of the committee on agriculture has been replaced by Sen. Cynthia Villar. Sen. Bam Aquino was replaced by Sen. Chiz Escudero as education committee chair.

Meanwhile, LP-ally Sen. Risa Hontiveros lost the health committee chairmanship to Sen. JV Ejercito.

No objections

It all started when Sen. Manny Pacquiao stood up and moved to declare all positions held by the LP senators vacant.

Then Pangilinan, Drilon, Aquino and Hontiveros all seconded the separate motions. There were no objections.

In other words, all LP members — with ally Hontiveros — have now joined the minority bloc with Sen. Antonio Trillanes and Sen. Leila de Lima.

Trillanes is temporarily the minority leader. De Lima is detained at Camp Crame.

'Monopoly of power'

Vice President Leni Robredo, who also belongs to the LP, said what happened at the Senate clearly showed that the Duterte administration was "incapable of tolerating dissent, no matter how constructive."

Related: VP Leni Robredo promises louder opposition

Robredo said the administration was "obsessed with monopolizing power" and wanted to ease out those who dissent.

"This has happened before. In the past, this paved the way for a one-man rule," she said referring to the country's martial law years.

"We will not be silenced. Our nation deserves no less. Democracy demands dissent."

Robredo herself had felt she was eased out of the Cabinet after she got a text message telling her not to attend meetings — prompting her to resign as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) last December.

CNN Philippines' Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.