MANILA (UPDATED) - Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III of PDP-Laban confirmed Wednesday that he will be the next president of the Senate after gaining the support of majority of his colleagues.
"Yes, that's our agreement," Pimentel said in a text message.
Incoming Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson earlier said Pimentel enjoys the support of a "super majority" in his bid for the Senate presidency.
On Wednesday, Senate President Franklin Drilon confirmed that "16 or 17 senators" from the Liberal Party (LP), Akbayan, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) and Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) are backing Pimentel as the new Senate President.
In a forum in Manila, Drilon said his eight-member LP and Akbayan group coalesced with the group of Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III in a meeting held Tuesday night.
Under a Pimentel leadership, Drilon will serve as Senate President Pro-Tempore while Sotto will sit as Majority Leader.
Drilon said the Senate will not be a "rubber stamp" in the administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
"There will be the independence of the Senate, but at the same time we will support in general the legislative agenda of President Duterte," he added.
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According to Drilon, there is consensus on the shift to a federal form of government which is being pushed by Duterte. It is only a matter of determining if it will be through a constituent assembly or constitutional convention.
"But my reading of public opinion is they would prefer con-con," he said.
He also said he is personally open on the contentious issue of restoring the death penalty. "I am against the imposition of the death penalty but I'm willing to listen to both sides," he said.
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Drilon said his group was also in communication with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano before they arrived at their decision.
"He reaches out to us, we reached out to him," he said.
It was for "the sake of unity and stability," he said, when asked why the LP and Akbayan decided to support Pimentel, the only member of PDP-Laban.
Drilon, meanwhile, said other laws which can also be discussed during the incoming 17th Congress under Pimentel's Senate presidency are the amendments to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, and the 85-year-old Revised Penal Code, and the passage of an anti-political dynasty law.