Cayetano not giving up on Senate presidency

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano has not given up on his ambition to become the next Senate President even after a looming coalition among PDP-Laban, Liberal Party, and other political parties announced last week its support for Sen. Koko Pimentel.

Cayetano told reporters Sunday he is still in talks with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte about the chamber's leadership. Cayetano was Duterte’s running mate.

May personal choice siya but it will be between the three of us muna. Gusto ng presidente na respect ang independence ng Senate,” Cayetano said.

[Translation: He has his personal choice but it will be between the three of us for now. The president wants to respect the independence of the Senate.]

He did not say who Duterte’s choice was.

Outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon said last week about 17 senators are backing Pimentel’s bid for the Senate presidency.

According to Drilon, the Liberal Party, Akbayan, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Nationalist People's Coalition, and other political groups have agreed to support the lone member of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan as the next leader of the upper house.

Committee chairmanships

Cayetano said he does not agree with certain assignments of committee chairmanships, particularly the Justice and Human Rights Committee going to Sen. Leila de Lima and Sen. Panfilo Lacson heading the Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee.

Both committees are key to the passage of Duterte's proposals to boost anti-crime and anti-drugs efforts and restoring the death penalty.

De Lima and Lacson had said they will not hesitate to probe possible irregularities under the Duterte administration. Cayetano said he fears the committees under the two senators may be used to block Duterte's plans after the two senators said they will not hesitate to probe possible irregularities under the incoming administration.

He said Pimentel “will be the best chairman” of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

“Sen. Koko will be best chairman of committee on justice,” Cayetano said. “Hindi siya papayag na may human rights violations, but he will also not jump to conclusion. Unlike Sen. Leila, wala pa nga nangyayari, sinasabi killings are killings. (That’s) not true, may killings na in self-defense,” Cayetano said.

[Translation: He will not allow human rights violations, but he will also not jump to conclusion. Unlike Sen. Leila de Lima who says, “killings are killings” although nothing has happened yet. That’s not true, there are killings committed in self-defense.]

Cayetano said he prefers Sen. JV Ejercito to head the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs. He said Ejercito is a former mayor who understands and supports the police and the governance style of Duterte.

Duterte-Marcos meeting

Cayetano said he wasn’t bothered by the recent meeting of Duterte and Sen. Bongbong Marcos, his rival in the vice presidential race. He said he is taking it at “face value.”

Marcos met Duterte last Friday in Davao City, where they reportedly talked about his prospects for appointment to a Cabinet position. Marcos also thanked Duterte for saying he will not appoint Robredo. Duterte has said he “does not want to hurt” Marcos by giving Robredo a Cabinet post.

Like Cayetano, Marcos is banned from being appointed to a Cabinet post for a year after the elections.

Cayetano said Duterte only appoints the “best and brightest” for his Cabinet.

Marcos on Saturday said it would be an honor for him to serve under the Duterte administration, but clarified that no post has been offered to him yet.