(MENAFN - Gulf Times) A solid and stronger Senate under the leadership of Vicente Sotto can be expected because he is not part of the ruling PDP-Laban party, according to two senators.
Sen. Nancy Binay said the Senate would be less politicised with Sotto heading the chamber because he could focus more on the work of the Senate since he is not running for re-election in 2019.
'We feel that the Senate would be more neutral and focused if it would be headed by someone who is not a re-electionist, she added.
Binay said she thinks Sotto would defend the institution against attacks from a co-equal branch of government like the time when Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez criticised the Senate for being slow in passing bills.
Alvarez had said the reason why there are few bills being signed into law is that the measures are stuck in the Senate. 'I think the consensus of the group is that he should have said something not to defend us personally, but to defend the institution, Binay said, referring to Senate President Aquilino 'Koko Pimentel.
Another believer in Sotto leading a less politicised Senate is Joseph Victor Ejercito, who also on Friday said he hopes for a smooth transition in the Senate presidency.
He added that it was not easy for the majority bloc to consider replacing Pimentel because he has been a good leader to them.
'Hopefully, they (Pimentel and Sotto) would discuss the matter and settle it between themselves. I hope that there will be a smooth transition, Ejercito said at the sidelines of a food festival organised by Villar Sipag of Sen. Cynthia Villar.
He added that the majority bloc has no major issues against Pimentel as Senate president.
Sotto, in a text message, on Friday vowed to protect the chamber from any unfair criticism that would be thrown by other parties.
'The Senate has a special place in my heart. I will not allow it to be degraded, trampled, attacked or unfairly criticised without responding fairly or violently if necessary, he said.
Sotto is likely to be replaced by Juan Miguel Zubiri as Senate majority leader while Ralph Recto will remain as Senate president pro-tempore.
'I am deeply honoured that my colleagues have once again considered me as their majority floor leader if and when the change in the Senate leadership happens, Zubiri said in a text message.
Pimentel also on Friday said he has nothing against the looming reorganisation in the Senate, adding that he, as an officer of the Senate, should be ready for changes.
He said he has not yet spoken to Sotto and he would want that the issue be discussed in the presence of other members of the majority bloc. At least 14 senators have signed a manifesto, in the form of a resolution, calling for the reorganisation of the Senate leadership and electing Senate Majority Leader Sotto as the new head of the chamber.
Pimentel dismissed insinuations that the move to replace him as Senate president is a form of a coup.
According to him, he wants to dedicate his time to educating the people about federalism since it was clear in a recent survey that only few Filipinos understand the subject.
When asked why Sotto would be a good choice to replace him, Pimentel said the latter is an expert when it comes to Senate rules and procedures.
Malacanang sees no problem with the looming change in the Senate leadership, its spokesman said on Friday.
In a Skype interview with reporters, Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte respects the decision of the senators to name a new Senate president.
'We respect the rights of the senators to choose their leader, Roque added. 'So, the president does not interfere with the process of electing a new Senate president.
Roque believes that the close relationship between the Duterte administration and the Senate would not change, adding that Sotto is a known ally of the