Senate will remain independent, even if only administration bets win – Pimentel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 8) — An administration senatorial candidate assures that the upper house will remain independent even if no Senate bet from the opposition wins.

“It will still be an independent Senate. Actually before, mayroon ngang [there was a] Senate na [with] only one opposition and it was still an independent Senate,” said Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who is also the president of administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan.

According to an electoral almanac from the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, no Congress since 1995 had only one member in the Senate minority bloc.

Opposition figures admit that their candidates’ chances of winning are slim.

Opposition coalition Otso Diretso spokesperson Barry Gutierrez told The Source on Tuesday that they have long expected that only Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV and former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II would win.

However, the two have slipped in and out of the list of possible winners, with the latest Pulse Asia poll only placing Aquino at the 10-14 rank, tied with four other bets, and Roxas in the 14-17 tier.

Pimentel echoed sentiments of opposition figures that only two of their Senate bets would snag a seat, but added that it is even possible for them to completely lose.

If no opposition Senate bet manages to clinch a seat on May 13, the Senate minority bloc would be left with only four members — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima. Aside from Aquino, opposition Senator Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's term also ends next month.

However, De Lima is still detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame over drug charges, leaving the minority bloc with only three votes on the Senate floor.

Even with six senators in the minority bloc now, they were still easily outvoted by the majority bloc on key issues backed by President Rodrigo Duterte like the two postponements of the barangay elections and the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Proposals from the members of the minority bloc to hold hearings on China’s reported incursions in Philippine waters was also left gathering dust on the desks of senators heading committees who hail from the majority bloc.

The Senate majority also blocked the minority in their bid to pass a resolution questioning the Supreme Court’s ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice.

However, the Senate has also taken a different path from the administration in certain issues. Bills for the restoration of the death penalty, the second package of the administration tax reform and Charter change, among others, remain pending in the upper chamber as senators are wary of acting on them.

CNN Philippines Researcher Dessy Bautista contributed to this report.