MALACAÑANG yesterday assured newly installed Senate President Vicente Sotto III of its cooperation even as it thanked the chamber’s outgoing leader, Aquilino Pimentel III, for shepherding key legislation during the first two years of the Duterte administration.
Sotto assumed yesterday the country’s third highest government post after 15 senators signed a draft resolution seeking a change in Senate leadership.
Pimentel himself nominated Sotto to succeed him in a plenary session later Monday.
“Whoever the senators may choose as their Senate President, we assure the incoming Senate President of our willingness to work with him as we recognize naman that whoever the new Senate President would be would also be a close ally of the Palace,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.
A staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, Sotto is the most senior member of the Senate. He was first elected to the Senate in 1992.
The Palace also extolled the achievements of Pimentel, president of the ruling PDP-Laban party, as Senate leader.
Roque cited the passage of the free irrigation law and free tuition in state-run universities, colleges, and technical-vocational schools.
It was also under Pimentel’s watch that Congress passed the measure doubling the salaries of soldiers and policemen and the first package of the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.
“Hindi po siguro na-enact iyang mga batas na iyan na walang kooperasyon din ni Senate President Koko Pimentel,” Roque said.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, however, seemed unimpressed with the Senate’s work, repeatedly calling it “mabagal na kapulungan” (slow chamber) for failing to approve measures already passed by the House of Representatives.