Speculation swirled Thursday that reelected Senator Cynthia Villar, the front-runner in the senatorial race during the May 13 midterm elections, would challenge incumbent Senate President Vicente Sotto III for the post.
In an interview over ANC’s “Headstart,” Senator-elect Imee Marcos said there were moves to have Villar of the Nacionalista Party “step in” to take over the Senate leadership.
“I heard Senator Villar’s name being floated as Senate President. I will support Senator Cynthia Villar because she is a party mate. It’s been asserted that once you hit the Senate, you are independent, but I think I will stick to my party,” Marcos added. She clarified, however, that there has been no “real effort” to campaign for Villar.
Marcos said Senator-elect Francis Tolentino from the ruling PDP-Laban suggested there was some kind of a move to push Villar.
While denying the supposed move, Villar told reporters she would “give it a thought.”
“No, nothing like that. We didn’t discuss anything, just preliminaries on the committees,” she said when sought for comment.
“Everything you have to think about when it comes. It doesn’t follow that you like it but you have to give it a thought,” the senator said.
The public should not immediately believe people floating such ideas, Villar stressed.
“It’s normal to float something like that, they are making stories even if they’re not true, It’s part of politics so it’s normal. All I know is that they’re all targeting [chairmanship of] committees,” she said.
Aside from Villar and Marcos, the other members of NP are Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senator-elect Pia Cayetano.
There will be five senators from the ruling PDP-Laban in the coming 18th Congress, which opens on July 1.
The five are Tolentino, PDP-Laban president Aquilino Pimentel III, incumbent Senator Manny Pacquiao, and incoming Senators Christopher Go and Ronaldo dela Rosa.
Marcos promised to stick with her party, especially to Villar, whom she said: “has been so good to us.” “We always hitched on her airplane,” she said in Filipino.
In an earlier interview, Cayetano also said being an NP member, she would definitely throw her support behind Villar, should she choose to contest the Senate presidency.
But Recto said Villar is not interested, and that Sotto was doing well.
Sotto’s camp said it has the support of not less than 12 senators.
Dela Rosa and Go said they were open to supporting Sotto, while Tolentino said he would wait for the decision of the party.
Sotto is counting on votes from Senators Panfilo Lacson and Senators-elect Grace Poe and Lito Lapid.
He is also likely to get the support of Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri and Senators-elect Nancy Binay and Juan Edgardo Angara, as well as Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva and Richard Gordon.
Zubiri and Gatchalian said they are confident that Sotto will retain his post since Villar said she is not interested in the Senate presidency.
Earlier, Villar said becoming Senate president would mean she would have to give up the committees on agriculture and food and environment and natural resources because managing the Senate was a full-time job.
The minority bloc composed of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Francis Pangilinan, Leila De Lima, and Risa Hontiveros have been silent about who they would support.
A senator needs 13 votes to become Senate president.
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