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Sotto sure of keeping Senate leadership

Elmer N. Manuel @tribunephl_lmer

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Unlike the fierce battle for the House speakership that needed to be settled by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, the Senate is already assured of having Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III keeping his post.

The opening of the 18th Congress set on 22 July will be a mere walkthrough for Sotto in Pasay City as he is expected to tour familiar grounds at the Senate Building.

Opposition Sen. Franklin Drilon revealed that the Senate majority is one in supporting Sotto to remain as their leader.

“Our majority has agreed that Senate President Sotto will retain his post. There is no question about that. That is the formality when session opens on 22 July. We will elect Sen. Sotto in accordance with the Constitution,” Drilon said.

The Senator added that the committee chairmanships have been sorted out, too.

“It seems there’s no more problem. We have agreed and the equity of the incumbent prevailed. So it seems there are no changes except for some,” said Drilon. “The new senators will have new committees to chair.”

Earlier, newly-elected Sen. Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa had also expressed his support to retain Sotto, saying that it is already a “done deal.”

“I haven’t been counted yet but it seems like a done deal,” said De la Rosa in a previous interview. “We have discussed it. We will support him and we will maintain the status quo.”

Sotto was elected as Senate President in May 2018, replacing former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III. At least 13 votes from his colleagues are needed to retain his post.

The name of Sen. Cynthia Villar, who topped the May senatorial elections, was earlier floated as a contender for the Senate presidency.

When asked about Villar, De la Rosa said: “She’s not interested but if she insists, she might get the numbers. But we have agreed that we will support Sen. Sotto.”

Only the speakership race remained tight until Monday afternoon when President Rodrigo Duterte disclosed a term-sharing agreement had been reached between Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Cayetano will serve as House Speaker for 15 months before he transfers the power to Velasco, who will serve for 21 months.

The third candidate, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, agreed to serve as Hose Majority Leader for three years.