Senate minority ponders future

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2019 05:17 PM | Updated as of May 21 2019 08:20 PM

MANILA – Two of the four senators left in the Senate minority bloc in the upcoming 18th Congress are taking stock of their group’s future following the resounding loss of their allies in the midterm polls.

None of the 8 candidates of opposition slate Otso Diretso snagged a slot in the recently concluded midterm polls, providing the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte an avenue to consolidate its power and push for its legislative priorities with little to no hurdle.

Already decimated in the 17th Congress, the Senate minority is expected to see its influence further diminished in the 18th Congress when two of its members - Senators Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV and Antonio Trillanes IV - leave the chamber. 

Aquino failed in his reelection bid, while Trillanes has reached his term limit.

Come the opening of the new session of Congress in July, the Senate minority will only have four members – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, detained Sen. Leila de Lima, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who has just resigned as president of the opposition Liberal Party.

Drilon said he is confident the minority would continue to have a “good relationship with the leadership of this Congress.”

“Senate President [Vicente] Sotto [III] has been treating us fairly and has given us the appropriate respect as members of the minority,” Drilon told reporters.

Drilon said the minority would continue to be “fiscalizers” in the upper chamber of Congress.

“The rules and the tradition of the Senate will always recognize the voice of the minority. There is no railroading in the Senate,” he said.

In a dispatch from her detention cell last Sunday, De Lima admitted that the loss of Otso Diretso was hard and painful.

She said she could not understand how the “objectively undeserving” won in the polls, especially when this would result in “the consolidation of power and control in one man,” something “history has taught us to avoid, and what our laws and constitutional set-up were designed to prevent.”

“But we should not give up. Because this fight is perhaps the most important fight of our entire history as a nation. We are fighting for our future, our children’s future. We are fighting for our soul as a nation,” she said.