MANILA – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Friday his bloc would “fight tooth and nail” to uphold the Senate’s independence and block measures that would not benefit the country.
“We are ready to listen and compromise as we had shown in the last Congress. But we are also prepared to fight ‘tooth and nail’ if need be,” Drilon said in a statement.
The Senate minority will have its numbers diminished when the 18th Congress opens on July 1, as two of its members, Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV will leave the chamber.
The bloc’s badly needed reinforcements from the opposition slate Otso Diretso also failed to get a single slot in the recently concluded midterm polls.
Come the opening of the 18th Congress, only three minority senators will be in the Senate, namely Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, and Risa Hontiveros. The minority bloc's fourth member, Leila de Lima, is currently detained on drug charges, which she has branded as trumped up and politically motivated.
Drilon said while the minority’s membership has dwindled, the bloc “will be more vigilant and will do everything in our capacity to protect the institution, fight for the common good, and uphold the democracy.”
The minority leader also noted there are mechanisms in the Senate that empower the members of the minority, citing the “no-cloture” rule which prevents a debate from being cut.
“This rule is an effective tool that empowers the minority and prevents a bill from being railroaded,” Drilon said.
With the Senate dominated by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, his legislative priorities may be easier approved.
However, sensitive and controversial measures such as the reimposition of death penalty, lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and the shift of form of government to federalism are still expected to spark heated and lengthy discussions in the upper chamber.