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Senate has lost its independence, Trillanes says

The Senate has lost its independence with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III following the dictates of some senators close to President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said on Tuesday.

Trillanes made the remark a day after the Senate majority moved to oust Liberal Party senators and close ally Senator Risa Hontiveros from their key chairmanships.

LP leader Senator Franklin Drilon also lost his post as Senate President Pro Tempore.

“Obviously, nawala ang independence ng Senado. Nadidiktihan siya ng kagustuhan ng iba’t ibang senador na nakadikit kay President Duterte. So it’s sad, nakakalungkot,” said Trillanes, a staunch critic of Duterte and now allied with LP senators in the minority bloc.

“Bahala na lang siya kung ganyan ang patakbo nya ng Senado, tatamaan din siya later on. Remember, itong mga nag-didikta sa kanya, hindi naman siya pinili in the first place so wala siyang loyalty na maaasahan diyan sa mga ‘yan,” he added.

The Liberals lost their posts a few days after LP member Senator Leila De Lima was arrested on drug charges.

The LPs expectedly rallied around their partymate, saying the charges against her were illegal.

Pimentel, the president of Duterte’s PDP-Laban, and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections, were fierce rivals for the Senate presidency last year.

Even Duterte previously commented in a public forum that he had no particular preference for the post, adding that Pimentel and Cayetano should “fight if out.”

In the end, Pimentel prevailed with 20 votes from his colleagues.

Drilon, now the Senate minority leader, reminded Pimentel that the LP produced six votes for him.

On Monday, Drilon was ousted from his post as Senate president pro tempore while Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan lost the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV lost his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Education while Senator Risa Hontiveros lost her chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Health.

Hontiveros is a member of the Akbayan party-list, a close ally of the LP members.

Pangilinan was then given the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, while Hontiveros retained her chairmanship of Senate Committee on Women.

Aquino retained his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Science.

Senator Ralph Recto, who replaced Drilon as Senate President Pro Tempore, said he was not in favor of the move of the Senate leadership to oust LP members.

Recto himself is a member of the LP, but was initially part of the minority bloc.

“If I had my way, if I were the Senate President at that time, at may problema with the members of the majority, sasabihin ko na lang sana kay Senator Drilon na I think we cannot work together, magresign na lang kayo. Ganoon na lang sana,” Recto said.

Recto said he was merely “recruited” by the majority bloc to replace Drilon.

“I was recruited to join majority to help craft legislation basically and help with legislative agenda of the administration, of the Senate particularly as well. So purely legislation,” Recto said. —NB, GMA News