MANILA - Backed by the support of 19 senators from different political parties, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel is poised to assume the Senate presidency on Monday when the 17th Congress opens session.
Senator Cynthia Villar was the latest to join the Senate majority coalition supporting Pimentel.
Villar's entry into the "supermajority" comes after Senator Alan Peter Cayetano withdrew his bid for the Senate presidency, and Pimentel announced that Sen. Richard Gordon will chair the powerful Blue Ribbon Committee.
Pimentel, who admitted his new post will be a challenge, promised to lead the Senate with "consultation and action."
"I'll be consultative. Gusto ko ginugulo ko din ang mga kasama ko; 'pag may problema, problemahin din nila," he said.
"We'll do our job the way I know - through hard work and steely discipline," he added.
Pimentel also assured his commitment to shepherding the Duterte administration's push for a federal system of government that could bring peace to strive-torn Mindanao.
Also high in the Senate agenda is the "search for peace" with Muslim rebels and the Communist insurgency led by the National Democratic Front-New People's Army.
"We are ready to give this search for peace our legislative support and moral support," Pimentel said.
The incoming Senate President also vowed to strengthen government's war against crime and narcotics by reinstating the death penalty for heinous crimes like drug trafficking.
"This is not only a deterrent but, in the words of President Duterte, retribution for the crimes done against the people," Pimentel said.
"Kung may pagkukulang pa sa batas, handa kaming tumulong," he vowed.
The other priorities in the list include adjustments on the tax system, greater infrastructure spending and budget reform.
Pimentel also puts priority in the the proposed amendment in the Local Government Code seeking bigger tax share of local government units (LGUs), right to adequate food and peaceful assembly, end to labor contractualization, repeal of bank secrecy law, creation of Mindanao railway, and abolition of the Road Board.
Pimentel follows in the footsteps of his father, former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., who was known for his landmark Local Government Code of 1991.