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Senate majority bloc to discuss Alan Cayetano's wish to chair Blue Ribbon –Zubiri

Senators who are poised to join the "supermajority" would need to discuss the chairmanship of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee anew after Senator-elect Alan Peter Cayetano said he would only join the majority if he chaired the powerful committee.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who is expected to become the next Senate president, made the statement while disclosing that Senator Francis Tolentino had already accepted the chairmanship of the Blue Ribbon Committee.

In an interview Thursday, Cayetano said Zubiri had asked him to work with the majority, but the outgoing Taguig-Pateros representative pointed out that the Senate needed a "fiscalizer" in the next Congress.

"Ang sabi ko naman [kay Zubiri], alam mo kailangan niyo ng fiscalizer. So kung ibibigay niyo ‘yung Blue Ribbon Committee, then baka may dahilan ako mag-majority because I will be able to do my job," Cayetano said.

(What I told him is that they need a fiscalizer in the Senate. So if they will give me the chairmanship of the Blue Ribbon Committee, then I might have a reason to join the majority because I will be able to do my job.)

"Pero kung bibigyan niyo ako ng committee kahit napakaganda pero walang magfi-fiscalize o kakaunti ang magfi-fiscalize, o watak-watak 'yung magfi-fiscalize sa administrasyon na ito ay mahirap 'yon," he went on.

(If they will give me any other committee, no matter how attractive the committee, yet no one can fiscalize or only a few can fiscalize this administration, then that would be difficult.)

The returning senator said he would be happy to be in the minority if he could not be given a job in the majority bloc where he can express his approval or disapproval of the incoming administration's policies.

“So that's the present status at siguro mag-uusap-usap ulit a few weeks before the [State of the Nation Address] because nga maraming not in the country or busy na nago-organize," Cayetano said.

(So that's the present status and maybe we will discuss this again a few weeks before the SONA because many of the 19th Congress senators are not in the country or busy organizing other matters.)

Responding to Cayetano's statement, Zubiri said he would initiate another meeting with the majority as the agreement that Tolentino would chair the Blue Ribbon panel had been cemented.

"I would need to consult the majority on the request of my friend, Senator Alan Cayetano. We have already discussed this with Senator Tolentino and he had already accepted the chairmanship of the Blue Ribbon Committee. So it's not my decision to make at this moment," Zubiri told reporters in a Viber message.

"Unfortunately, a number of senators are on vacation for the next two weeks before I can call for an initial meeting of the supermajority. We can only make a decision then," he added.

Earlier, Zubiri had disclosed his bloc's leadership posts after Senator Cynthia Villar announced that she would no longer seek the Senate presidency.

He disclosed that the Blue Ribbon Committee had been offered to Tolentino, but during that time the latter had yet to accept the post.

Alan and his sister, Senator Pia Cayetano, were reportedly inclined to join Senators Risa Hontiveros and Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III in the minority bloc.

In an interview during his proclamation last May 18, Alan Peter Cayetano said he had yet to decide whether he would join the majority or minority bloc in the Senate.

His sister Pia, on the other hand, has yet to declare whether she would join the majority bloc or not.

Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, in a recent interview, pointed out that incumbent Senator Pia Cayetano's handing over of the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means to re-elected Senator Sherwin Gatchalian in the 19th Congress was an "indication" that she would join the minority.

By tradition, members of the majority keep their chairmanships of major committees, such as the Ways and Means panel, following the principle of the equity of the incumbent.

For outgoing Senate Blue Ribbon Chairman Richard Gordon, his successor must be “independent-minded” so he or she could investigate erring government officials.

“‘Pag nilagay ka dyan kailangan independent-minded ka. Kung alam mo na hindi mo magagawa ‘yun (probe) dahil presidente na ‘yung involved o ang administration ang involved, huwag mong tanggapin,” Gordon said in a text message shared to reporters.

(If you were assigned to lead that committee, you should be independent-minded. If you know that you cannot conduct a probe because the president is involved or the administration is involved, then don’t accept the position.) — DVM, GMA News