MANILA (UPDATE) — Sen. Cynthia Villar is backing out of the battle for the Senate presidency in the incoming 19th Congress.
"Wala nang SP (Senate president) race," Villar told reporters Wednesday morning.
(There's no longer any SP race.)
Villar said she has informed Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri of her decision to support his bid for Senate's top post.
ABS-CBN sources earlier said the 2 lawmakers were courting support from their colleagues to secure the Senate presidency.
As proof of commitment to unify both camps, Villar even offered a "term-sharing" scheme with Zubiri, said Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa.
But according to Villar, she decided to back out from the race to have a "simple life."
"Ayaw ko na (I don't want it anymore). I want a simple life... I’ll take care of my advocacy, agriculture and environment," she said.
In a chance interview, Zubiri said he was only informed of Villar's decision earlier Wednesday.
"Kaninang umaga… ay tinawag niya ko sa isang tabi at kinausap at sinabing hindi na raw siya interesado sa Senate presidency… Ang sabi lang nya huwag kalimutan ang kanilang grupo," Zubiri said.
(This morning, she called me to one side and said she's no longer interested in the Senate presidency. She only told me not to forget their group.)
Zubiri thanked Villar for "helping" him form the "supermajority" for the next Congress.
"Nagpapasalamat po kami kay ma'am Cynthia sa tulong niya sa pagbibigay nitong supermajority," he said.
(We thank ma'am Cynthia for her help in providing this supermajority.)
A supermajority in Congress can give Marcos leeway to pass his priority bills, analysts earlier said.
Sen. Imee Marcos said on Tuesday it was "unlikely" that her brother, President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. would interfere with the Senate presidency race.
Zubiri and Villar's son Mark were part of the Marcos Senate slate in the May 9 polls. The Villar-led Nacionalista Party also endorsed Marcos's presidential bid.
— With reports from Jauhn Etienne Villaruel and Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News