Grace Poe to join minority if Sotto is ousted as Senate President

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Senator Grace Poe (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) — Senator Grace Poe is ready to leave the majority bloc and join the opposition in case Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III is removed from leadership.

She made this statement amid rumors some newly elected senators want Sotto replaced.

"Sa tingin ko kapag pinalitan talaga nila si Senator Sotto, may banta talaga na may mga iba na hindi sasanib doon sa mayorya," Poe said in a chance interview on Wednesday.

[Translation: I think if they will really replace Senator Sotto, there is a threat that other senators will join the minority.]

When asked if she was among these senators, she said yes.

"Kung lilipat si Senator Sotto sa minority, sasama na lang ako (If Senator Sotto will move to the minority, I will just join him)," she added.

Senators have reaffirmed their support for Sotto amid talks of a possible leadership change. Sotto himself believes he has the support "of at least 15 or 16" senators, he said Tuesday. He would need 13 votes to stay as Senate President.

The 17th Congress adjourns on June 7. It will reconvene as the 18th Congress on July 22, when the election of new leaders could happen.

Battle for committee chairmanships

Poe hopes the newly elected senators will respect the Senate leadership and their colleagues' incumbent chairmanship of congressional committees.

She confirmed a senator-elect is eyeing her post as chairperson of the Public Services Committee, but refused to disclose who the person was.

"‘Yun nga ang sinabi, ‘yung kung sino ang mga nauna—meron naman silang equity of the incumbent—sana respetuhin nila (That's what we're saying, those who were elected first, they have equity of the incumbent and should be respected)," Poe said.

She also stressed the importance of making sure that the Committee on Public Services is in good hands. The committee handles all matters affecting services and utilities, communications, as well as land, air, river and sea transportation. It is also in charge of granting or amending legislative franchises.

"Ang Public Services ay maselan na komite sapagkat kung hindi mo gagamitin ang kapangyarihan mo sa maayos na paraan, puwedeng magkaroon ng korapsiyon," Poe said.

[Translation: The Public Services is a crucial committee because there could be corruption if the powers are misused.]

In the 18th Congress, the committee is expected to tackle the renewal of the controversial franchise of television giant ABS-CBN – which President Rodrigo Duterte opposes. It could also grant or reject the emergency powers requested by the President to solve Metro Manila traffic.

Poe stressed she is not leaving her post unless Senator Richard Gordon agrees to trade it with the chairmanship of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, the body tasked to investigate cases involving public officials and government employees. Poe said she has talked to Gordon about it, but he has not made up his mind yet.

Poe said she would be perfect for the blue ribbon committee, considering that she is an independent senator aligned with no political party.