Pimentel willing to step down if demanded by re-election bid
A leadership change at the Senate is seen likely to occur later this year as Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said he is willing to step down if the majority bloc picks another leader when he files his candidacy for 2019 re-election.
Sources at the Senate told The Manila Times the changes are likely to happen during the third and last session of the 17th Congress, after the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
They said Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd is expected to take over the leadership of the upper chamber when Pimentel leaves. They were not clear if the leadership change would also affect other positions in the upper chamber.
The senators are speculating that the revamp is part of a “term-sharing” agreement forged between Pimentel and Sotto in view of the 2019 elections.
Pimentel is also the president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which is chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Pimentel, however, denied in a radio interview on Sunday morning there was any term-sharing agreement between him and Sotto.
“Categorically, I am saying that we do not have a term-sharing [agreement]. Categorically, I am saying that I can be replaced anytime. I’m willing to let go. There will be no hard feelings and I will also be a part of the majority,” Pimentel said.
Sotto confirms Pimentel’s statement
“Term-sharing is not an issue. Senate leaders serve at the pleasure of the senators. No two senators can agree to sharing a term when it is their peers that elect their leaders,” Sotto said.
The Senate president said he is also assessing the situation to find out if members of the Senate majority would allow him to stay on as Senate president while seeking re-election.
While denying having a term-sharing agreement with Sotto, Pimentel said he would ask the latter’s advice once he files his certificate for candidacy in October this year.
Pimentel is one of six senators seeking reelection in next year’s polls.
“I will seek the advice of Sen. Sotto since he is the most senior member of the Senate,” the Senate president said.
He explained that he could still serve as Senate president even if he has filed his certificate of candidacy, but he added it would be best to consult officials of the chamber, particularly the Senate majority leader.
Pimentel said Sotto, being the most senior member of the Senate, has practical knowledge and institutional memory.
“So even the filing of candidacy, I like to get advice from him on what is the best way to move forward not only for me but for the Senate as an institution,” he added.
Asked if he felt threatened by members of other groups within the majority bloc who may have the numbers to elect a new Senate head, Pimentel said he is not bothered because he is ready and willing to leave his post.
“If majority of the members of the Senate want new blood to lead the Senate, I am willing to let go,” Pimentel said.