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Senate rid of caucus woes after shakeup

SENATOR Panfilo Lacson said Wednesday the removal of Liberal Party senators from key positions in the Senate solves the problem of having members of the so-called super majority who almost always vote with the minority.

“We could not have a caucus as a majority in the Senate because we had colleagues with reservations about the legislative agenda, [and] we had colleagues of the so-called super majority who almost always vote with the minority,” Lacson said.

In one instance, he said, then Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon manifested that the issue of bribery and extortion be referred to the committee on civil service and government reorganization chaired by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a member of the minority.

“When we voted on it, they all voted that it be referred to the civil service committee instead of going along with the majority to have it referred to the Blue Ribbon committee,” Lacson said.

He said in many other instances, the Liberal Party senators would vote with the minority.

Senator Panfilo Lacson

When issues were taken up on the floor, Trillanes would often consult the Liberal Party senators instead of the other members of the minority.

“Why would he [Trillanes] consult certain members of the majority?” Lacson asked.

Lacson said he was part of a bloc in the Senate that hatched the plot to remove LP senators from the super majority during a meeting at the Makati residence of Senator Manny Pacquiao.

The other members of the so-called macho bloc were Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senator Gregorio Honasan II. Senator Loren Legarda also joined them.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, who replaced Drilon, said if he were the Senate President at the time when detained Senator Leila de Lima was removed as chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, he would have just asked Drilon to give up his post. 

“If I had my way, if I were the Senate President at that time, and there were problems with the members of the majority, I would just tell Senator Drilon that I think we cannot work together’ you should just resign,” said Recto, who is still a member of the LP.

Recto, who used to be minority leader, said he had nothing to do with Drilon’s ouster and the removal of Senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Risa Hontiveros as chairmen of their respective committees.

“I had nothing to do with that. Remember, I was with the minority, I was the minority leader. We cannot interfere with the majority,” Recto said.

Recto also dismissed rumors of a destabiliation plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I think we should dial back the talk on conspiracy theories because there are none,” Recto said.

“Whoever is whispering on the ear of the President to beware of the Ides of March, or April, or November, of December, is only whispering lies,” he said.

Recto said policy disagreements should be seen as a sign that democracy is working, and therefore be welcomed.

“When we start interpreting differences in opinion as destabilization moves, the exchange of ideas needed to better public policy or service suffers,” he said.

“This is the kind of labeling that destroys civil discourse and poisons dialogue,” Recto added.

Pangilinan, national president of the LP, said they no longer questioned their ouster from their posts because recent events made it untenable for them to stay with the super majority in the Senate. 

In a statement, Pangilinan noted that the writing was on the wall. 

“It was just a matter of time and the time did come,” he said.

Because of this, Pangilinan said they did not resist the shakeup and left willingly and without debate.

Topics: Senator Panfilo Lacson , Senate , Liberal Party senators , Senator Antonio Trillanes IV , Senator Franklin Drilon
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