Pimentel eyes Cayetanos, Escudero for ‘dream minority’


Facade of the Senate of the Philippines building. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said on Monday that he would soon reach out to the Cayetano siblings and Sorsogon Gov. Francis Escudero, an incoming senator, as possible members of the Senate minority bloc.

“The Cayetano siblings, I want to meet with them — maybe even Gov. Chiz Escudero,” Pimentel told reporters in an interview.

“I will reach out to them because they are the only ones I can think of as potential [minority bloc members]. I think that’s already the maximum of the minority. Five is the maximum,” he added, speaking in a mix of Filipino and English.

“If my dream minority of five is formed, four in there are lawyers,” he pointed out.

Pimentel, Escudero, Sen. Pia Cayetano and Senator-elect Alan Peter Cayetano are all lawyers.

“I have nothing to offer. As minority, we have nothing to offer except the principle that there must be a minority in the Senate so that there will be no tyranny in numbers. The majority will be aware that there are still people checking them,” Pimentel said when asked what he could offer to convince the Cayetano siblings and Escudero to join the minority.

Role of minority

So far, the Senate minority bloc for the 19th Congress only has Pimentel and opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros as its members.

“The minority is really the last to be formed. On the day itself of the session where the Senate President will be nominated, all those who will not vote in favor of the Senate President or who are not even present to vote will be considered minority. So then that’s when we will organize,” Pimentel said.

According to Pimentel, the role of the minority bloc is to check on the majority senators and to ensure they “follow the rules.”

“They [majority senators] should not get carried away thinking that there is no one checking them. Checking in what sense? Number one: Follow the rules, the Senate rules. The minority knows that it will always be outvoted at the end when it [a bill] is now put to a vote. But before you put something to vote, there are rules to follow,” he added.

“Then we will stress test their ideas. That means, you have a proposal, then we will now give you scenarios on how to test the validity of the proposal. That is the role of the minority. And sometimes, in rare instances, we can also improve some of the measures. The minority does not always oppose. You can vote to join the majority, especially after we have improved the measure,” he said.

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