By Cathy Yamsuan | Philippine Daily Inquirer
The haggling for committee chairmanships among senators continues and Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. hinted that Sen. Franklin Drilon’s ascent to the top post in the chamber could hinge on whether he can make “everybody happy” with their assignments in the incoming Congress.
Marcos said senators have already indicated to Drilon, Malacañang’s choice for Senate President, their preferred committee assignments.
This is not a guarantee however that all senators would get what they want. In some cases, two or more senators have publicly indicated their interest in the same Senate committee.
“There would have to be adjustments. ‘If I cannot give you this committee, would this other one be fine with you?’ I’m sure you’re all familiar with that process, that’s what going on now,” Marcos told reporters at the Kapihan sa Senado Thursday.
Marcos said Drilon must first resolve the issue of committee distribution before he can get majority support for the Senate Presidency.
“Nothing is definite… Of course, it’s going to be the issue of committee chairmanships that is going to be key,” he explained.
Until Drilon comes up with his final list of committee assignments that satisfies everyone, he is still unsure of whether he will helm the chamber, Marcos said.
Because of this, Marcos said the Nationalista Party (NP) senators remain “open to anything. We have not yet decided on fielding (or) not fielding (a choice for Senate President).”
Marcos said that as it is, the NP feels “it’s very, very early” to tell who becomes the next Senate President following the resignation of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile on June 5.
While the committee assignments remain unclear, Marcos said the senators “really cannot make any decisions now because anything can happen between now and July 22” when the 16th Congress opens.
“You could only expect things to become more definite less than one week before the 22nd. I can come and tell you ‘this is what will happen’ but not until then,” he told reporters.
Observers noted that Marcos’ statement ran counter to Drilon’s announcement several weeks back in the same forum that he and NP president Sen. Manny Villar have already agreed that senators from the NP and Drilon’s Liberal Party would field a “single candidate” for Senate President.
Marcos would not reveal the committee preferences he and his NP partymates submitted to Drilon.
“I don’t want to preempt anyone by saying this or the other thing. Let us just say that everyone has been able to (indicate his or her committee choices),” he said.
Earlier reports said the NP has asked that newly reelected Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano be appointed Senate President Pro Tempore and his sister Sen. Pia Cayetano be the majority leader.
However, Sen. Loren Legarda, in a huddle with reporters earlier this week, said Drilon has offered the Pro Tempore position to her in “several conversations.”
The NP has also asked for the Senate national defense chairmanship for newly elected Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.