Press Release
July 24, 2016

A super-majority of 19 senators ready to elect Pimentel as Senate President

With a super-majority of 19 senators from several political parties already committed to supporting him, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel lll prepares to step into the Senate presidency tomorrow (Monday) when the 17th Congress opens session, promising "consultation and action."

A potentially heated race that had began weeks earlier, with Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano also a declared aspirant for the position, has ended, clearing the way for Pimentel to claim a huge mandate and turn the Senate into a bastion of legislative support for President Duterte's wide-ranging reform initiatives.

Sen. Cynthia Villar was the latest to join the Senate majority coalition, following Cayetano's withdrawal, even as Pimentel announced the coveted chairmanship of the powerful Blue Ribbon Committee will go to comebacking Sen. Richard Gordon.

Pimentel emerges as the pillar of the Duterte Administration that was swept into power in the May elections on a platform of change, casting Pimentel in a historic role as a shepherd of a legislative program to flesh out the President campaign promises.

The Senate presidency, Pimentel said, is a huge challenge and responsibility. "I'll be consultative, gusto ko ginugulo ko din ang mga kasama ko, pag may problema problemahin din nila," he said.

The young Pimentel follows in the footsteps of his father, former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., whose career as a staunch defender of democracy and champion of local governments was crowned by his landmark Local Government Code of 1991.

But Koko comes into a new mix of political and social ferment dominated by increasing agitation for peace with Muslim and Communist insurgents, a stop to corruption and an all-out war on crime especially the illicit drug trade.

These are the priorities framed by the hugely popular Duterte Administration as the new Senate buckles down to work after the President's first State of the Nation Address before a Joint Session of Congress at the Batasan complex in Quezon City.

"We'll do our job the way I know - through hard work and steely discipline," said Pimentel, who vowed to lead an "activist Senate."

He brings his relative youth and fresh perspective on politics earned the hard way with PDP Laban, one of the few political parties that uncompromisingly fought martial rule and outlived it, and now promises to lead a social revolution that seeks to uplift the lives of ordinary Filipinos.

Pimentel told in his weekly radio program "May Bagong Pag-asa" at DZRH that he was committed to shepherding the new administration's urgent reform agenda topped by a shift to the federal system of government that would give greater autonomy to the regions, most especially in the areas of conflict in Muslim Mindanao, which have been rocked by more than four decades of internecine violence.

Also high in the agenda is the "search for peace" with Muslim rebels and the Communist insurgency led by the National Democratic Front-New People's Army. "We are ready to give this search for peace our legislative support and moral support," he said.

The war on illegal drugs, which the administration has vowed to pursue relentlessly, will be strengthened by a bill bringing back the death penalty for those who commit heinous crimes such as drug trafficking.

"This is not only a deterrent but in the words of President Duterte, retribution for the crimes done against the people," Pimentel said.

"Kung may pagkukulang pa sa batas, handa kaming tumulong," he vowed.

The other priorities in the list include a long-needed reform on the tax system to ease the burden on the ordinary wage earner, greater infrastructure spending and budget reform that would reflect the President's priorities, Pimentel said.

Among his priorities are the proposed amendment in the Local Government Code for a bigger tax share of local government units (LGUs), right to adequate food and peaceful assembly, end to labor contractualization, repeal of bank secrecy law, creation of Mindanao railway, and abolition of the Road Board.

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