Koko Pimentel: Senators do not trust Arroyo

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 2) —  Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo needs to gain the confidence of senators to achieve the  popularity she enjoys in the House of Representatives, Senator Koko Pimentel said today.

"The new speaker must win the trust of my fellow senators kasi naramdaman ko rin yung mistrust or distrust of senators towards (her)," he said in an ambush interview at a meeting of the leaders of the ruling party, PDP-Laban.

[Translation: The new speaker must win the trust of my fellow sentaors, as I also feel their mistrust or distrust towards (her).]

Pimentel said some senators continue to believe the former president wants to become prime minister under a federal form of government, a view he does not share.

"Pinopoint out ko nga na wala namang draft na may prime minister," he said. "Saan manggagaling yun? Still, they're insisting baka may hidden agenda."

[Translation: I even pointed out there is no draft with a Prime Minister (position). Where did that come from? Still, they're insisting she might have a hidden agenda.]

The proposed federal charter of the Consultative Committee does not provide for the position. Arroyo, who also pushed for charter change when she was president, had dismissed as black propaganda all speculation that she was after a prime minister post.

However, some senators remain unconvinced -- particularly Senator Grace Poe.  Poe's father, the late popular actor Fernando Poe, Jr., lost to Arroyo in the 2004 presidential elections amid allegations of poll fraud.

"Sa ating mga kababayan, maghanda lang kayo," Poe warned when Arroyo rose to the House leadership. "Pagka-ang mga namuno sa Kongreso ay i-railroad itong (charter change) at gawing parliamentary form, maaaring magising na lang kayo, either patas ang kapangyarihan (niya) sa pangulong binoto ninyo, o siya na ang magte-take over bilang Prime Minister."

[Translation: To our countrymen, be ready. If the heads of Congress railroad (charter change) and convert government to parliamentary form, you might wake up to (those people) holding equal powers as the President, or ready to take over as Prime Minister.]

Other members of the Upper Chamber have issues with Arroyo, who assumed power when former president Joseph Estrada, father of Senator JV Ejercito, was forced to step down amid a popular revolt.

Senators Gringo Honasan and Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes were jailed for trying to unseat Arroyo. 

READ: Lacson: Cha-cha 'good as dead' with Arroyo in the House

Senator Panfilo Lacson, a strong critic of Arroyo, went into hiding in 2010 after murder charges were filed against him by her administration. While he said he had made peace with the Speaker he clarified that he lives by the rule: forgive your enemies, but don't forget their names.

CNN Philippines correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.