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Villar likely to become Senate President again, says Miriam

May 16, 2010 11:50am

Despite having been ousted as Senate President in 2008, it is likely that Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. would assume the Senate leadership again after shifting political tides made him a strong presidential contender in the May 10 polls and helped him develop new alliances.

“Villar will likely be the Senate President, because we have the numbers. If he wants to be Senate President again, he will have it," re-elected Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said in an interview on dzBB radio Sunday.

Defensor-Santiago ran as a guest candidate of Villar’s Nacionalista Party in the Philippines’ first nationwide automated polls.

Villar, whose term as senator would end in three years, conceded the presidential race to Sen. Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday.

He resigned as Senate President in November 2008 amid talks his colleagues were about to oust him for his alleged role in the controversial C-5 road extension project. [See: GMANews.TV’s interactive map on the C-5 Mess]

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who also got re-elected in the May 10 elections, took over the Senate leadership from Villar.

Those who voted for Enrile at that time were Senators Edgardo Angara, Rodolfo Biazon, Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, Enrile, Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Jamby Madrigal, Ramon Revilla Jr., Manuel Roxas II, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Senators Joker Arroyo, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pilar Juliana Cayetano, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., and Aquino abstained, while Defensor-Santiago was absent and Villar and detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV did not vote.

Ironically, in the months leading to the May 10, 2010 elections, Aquino became Villar’s main rival for the presidency. Legarda became Villar’s running mate, while Angara, Lapid, and Revilla became Villar’s allies.

New batch of senators

On Saturday, the Commission on Elections proclaimed nine new senators: Revilla, Estrada, Santiago, Enrile, Pia Cayetano, and former senators Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto and Vicente Sotto III, with Ferdinand Marcos Jr. elected for the first time to the Senate. [See: Comelec en banc proclaims 9 of 12 newly elected senators]

The Comelec has yet to proclaim three more senators, pending the canvassing of some two to three million more votes.

Expected to fill the last three of the 12 slots are former Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, as well as Manuel Lapid, and Teofisto Guingona III. However, consistently trailing in 13th place is Akbayan Rep. Ana Theresia “Risa" Hontiveros-Baraquel.

The new senators will join incumbents Angara, Arroyo, Alan Peter, Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Legarda, Francis Pangilinan, Trillanes, Villar, and Juan Miguel Zubiri in the 15th Congress.

With the new composition of the new Senate in the 15th Congress, the following are openly allied with, or are perceived as allies of Villar: Angara, Arroyo, the Cayetano siblings, Legarda, Revilla, and Defensor-Santiago.

On Sunday, Defensor-Santiago warned Aquino to solidify his alliances in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“If he wants bills to be passed, he may not be able to do so if he would not get the support of the opposition majority," she said in Pilipino in the radio interview. —VS, GMANews.TV
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