MANILA - Senate President Franklin Drilon on Monday said he will yield the Senate presidency to whoever gets the support of the majority of senators in the 17th Congress.
"I have always said that whoever has 13 signatures electing Senator XYZ to lead the 17th Congress, I am willing to yield the Senate presidency," Drilon told reporters.
He also said the Senate was focused on the proclamation on Monday of the new president and vice-president.
"Itatawid pa namin itong proclamation, mauna yan," Drilon said, adding that members of the Liberal Party in the Senate have yet to talk about the Senate presidency.
Drilon, likewise, denied claims that Malacañang is calling on senators to keep the Senate presidency under the Liberal Party.
"I don't think so. I have no information on that, and I deny that."
"As I said, whoever has 13 [signatures], I can immediately yield the post to them," he added.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, the defeated running mate of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte, currently the majority leader, is being pushed as the next Senate President.
Senator Koko Pimentel, Duterte's PDP-Laban party mate, is seen as another strong candidate.
READ: Pacquiao backs Cayetano for Senate presidency
FIRST IN ABSENTIA
Meanwhile, Drilon said this was the first time the incoming president was proclaimed in absentia, after Duterte skipped his own proclamation on Monday.
"To my recollection yes, although attendance is not a requirement. The proclamation can be done without the presence of the candidate. What is important is that we perform our constitutional duty as the National Board of Canvassers to proclaim the president and the vice-president in the May 9, 2016 elections. We consider the proclamation as a constitutionally mandated duty of Congress and we will perform. It is not affected by the absence of the proclaimed winners, but it is a constitutional act, which is critical to the peaceful transfer of power between one administration to the other," he said.
He added that Monday's proclamation is a fulfillment of Congress' constitutional task.
"We will perform our constitutional task, so that there will be stability in our political system, because you can only imagine what will happen to our country if we do not proclaim any president or vice-president. And we will perform the task this afternoon, we will comply with our constitutional duty," Drilon said.
When asked whether Duterte is required to give incoming vice president Leni Robredo a Cabinet position, Drilon said it will depend on Duterte.
"The matter of being a member of the Cabinet is a matter that rests on the trust and confidence of the president. Vice President Robredo has offered her hand of cooperation, that is a matter for President-elect Duterte to consider," Drilon said, adding that historically, vice presidents were given Cabinet positions.
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