MANILA (UPDATE) — Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said Wednesday he would join the minority bloc in the upper chamber under the 19th Congress.
Pimentel said this move would ensure that the Senate would not become a "rubber stamp" of the administration of presumptive president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
"I want to be sure that structurally there will be a segment of the Senate, which will check the greater majority," Pimentel said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.
"It doesn't mean na we will always be on the opposite side. Check lang namin (We will just check), number 1, are we following the Senate rules... Number 2, we will look at the constitutionality of the proposal then, number 3, we will look at the wisdom," he added.
Asked who should lead the next Senate minority, Pimentel said he has yet to speak with Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the lone senator from the opposition slate who won in the recently concluded May 9 elections.
"Basta ako, I will always be available to express opinions kasi 'yan I think ang importante ngayon, that our society, our government, and style of governance must allow the expression of all kinds of points of view," he said.
(With me, I will always be available to express opinions because I think that's what's important now in our society. Our government and style of governance must allow the expression of all kinds of points of view.)
In a TeleRadyo interview Friday, Pimentel appeased concerns the new composition of Senate could be compromised.
"By nature of the position kasi na ini-elect nationwide, so mga independent thinkers po ito lahat ng senators. Walang nagbago sa kapasidad for independent thinking," he said
"Lahat qualified maging Senate President pero siyempre lamang 'yung mas familiar sa Senate rules. Mas may experience sa kultura ng Senado. 'Yung merong core group na matibay at malaki na," he added.
Prior to this development, Pimentel was already seen to join the minority bloc, following his power struggle with allies of President Rodrigo Duterte over the leadership of political party PDP-Laban.
Pimentel is also the son of the late Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel, a victim of martial law victim under Marcos Jr's father and namesake.
Following the proclamation of the Senate race's winning circle, the upper chamber will be dominated by political families and allies who can help Marcos Jr pass pet laws, according to analysts.