Resolution to keep Sotto as Senate President making the rounds

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 31) — Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has drafted a resolution now circulating among his colleagues to keep Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III in his position, amid talks of a possible leadership change supposedly initiated by incoming senators.

Para magkaalaman na this early kung totoo ‘yung sinasabi naming lahat na suportado namin ang liderato niya. Kung hindi, magkaalaman na rin kami kung sino ang alanganin na sumuporta,” Lacson said in a text message.

[Translation: So that we would find out this early if it is true that we all support his leadership. If not, then we will find out whose support is uncertain.]

Lacson said the resolution will be a “vote of confidence” on Sotto. He said in a radio interview that the resolution is undated to allow both incumbent and incoming members of the Senate to sign it before it is filed on the first session day of the 18th Congress.

Lacson said the idea was proposed by Senator Manny Pacquiao, who is also said to be part of the bloc allied with regional partty Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) of reelected Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. The group has been rumored to be planning the ouster of Sotto over disagreements on committee chairmanships.

READ: PDP-Laban president to push for Sotto to stay as Senate leader

Some incoming senators are said to be eyeing committee chairmanships, but incumbent senators want them to adhere to the chamber's tradition of keeping incumbents in their posts.

Pacquiao, however, has denied the existence of an HNP bloc and expressed his support for the leadership of Sotto.

Of the incoming senators in the next Congress, Senators-elect Ramon Bong Revilla, Pia Cayetano, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Christopher “Bong” Go, Imee Marcos and Francis Tolentino are allied with HNP. The regional group also backed by reelected Senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Cynthia Villar.

Pacquiao hosted a dinner meeting among top Senate leaders and Dela Rosa, Go, Pimentel, Revilla, and Tolentino two weeks ago, where the incoming senators reportedly pledged support for Sotto’s leadership.

However, Marcos revealed in a television interview that she has heard of “some kind of move” to replace Sotto with Villar, who topped the senatorial elections. 

Villar said no one has asked her to seek the Senate presidency, but is not closing the doors on the top post in the chamber.

READ: Grace Poe to join minority if Sotto is ousted as Senate President

Senators have reaffirmed their support for Sotto, praising his leadership. Senators Lacson and Grace Poe even said they will leave the majority bloc and join Sotto in the minority if he is ousted.

Sotto himself is confident that he enjoys the support of majority of his colleagues, saying the minority bloc will support him in the event that the new senators push through with their plan to oust him.

"There are nine or 10 of us [in the majority] and there are four in the minority. So what does that add up to? Eh 'di 'yun ang magiging [then that would become the] majority," he said.

Sotto only needs 13 votes to keep his seat, while the supposed ouster plotters would also need the same number of votes to elect a new Senate president.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.