Sotto vows to uphold Senate independence with looming entry of Duterte allies

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 14 2019 04:55 PM

Senate President Vicente Sotto III. File

MANILA- The Senate will remain free from the influence of President Rodrigo Duterte even as his allies are poised to dominate the chamber, Senate President Vicente Sotto III vowed Tuesday.

Nine candidates endorsed by the Duterte administration are set to win with the remaining 3 slots going to independent candidates, unofficial results as of Tuesday showed.

"Huwag sila mag-alala na walang oposisyon doon [sa Senate] di naman franchise ng oposisyon mag-oppose, eh kasi sa amin kung ano yung tama,"Sotto told radio DZMM Tuesday.

(Don't worry that there will be no opposition in the Senate because opposing is not the sole franchise of the opposition. We just side with what is right.)

Opposition senatorial slate Otso Diretso is headed for a stunning loss without a single candidate breaking in to the top 12 as seen in the partial, unofficial tally.

Duterte said Monday's polls could be viewed as a referendum for his administration.

The Senate has stood in the way of Duterte's push for federalism, one of his key campaign promises in 2016, along with a deadly narcotics crackdown and intensive fight against corruption.

Opposition senators meanwhile led legislative inquiries into his family and the drug war that has killed thousands.

More allies in the legislative chamber would benefit Duterte in his reform agenda as passage of bills are expected to be more smooth-sailing.

Sotto also noted that the Senate has historically been independent from the executive branch, as he vowed to uphold the tradition.

"Karamihan doon sa amin, independent-minded, transparent, at tsaka sincere," he said.

(Many of the senators are independent-minded, transparent, and sincere.)