Pimentel says Hontiveros agreed to make him minority leader in 19th Congress

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 9) — Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros has reportedly agreed to nominate Sen. Koko Pimentel as minority leader in the 19th Congress should the two of them form the opposition bloc, the latter revealed on Thursday.

"Let's play with the scenario. If ever it will be the two of us, Sen. Risa and myself, we have agreed that she will nominate me or she will vote for me as the minority leader," Pimentel told CNN Philippines' The Source.

In a separate message to CNN Philippines, Hontiveros said nothing has been finalized yet.

"I would be honored to nominate him as Minority Leader, or to serve as Minority Leader myself, if that’s what we finally decide. For now, we’re working closely together first on forming the Minority," she said.

Pimentel qualified, however, that there are no concrete plans that have been set for now because the minority bloc is the last group to be organized after the Senate president is elected. He is also unsure about the probability of having more colleagues joining their side.

"Technically, we will consider as minority all those who did not vote for the Senate president, all those who did not participate for the voting of the Senate president. So, it is only after that vote but we will look around, find out who these people are then we'll have to meet who is our minority leader," said Pimentel, who was once Senate president under the 17th Congress

Pimentel said he is being "very, very optimistic" about the possibility of having up to five members in the minority, if they will be joined by siblings Sens. Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano and Sen. Chiz Escudero.

"There are six lawyers (in the Senate). And if four will be in the minority, that is a formidable minority," the senator said, referring to himself, Escudero, and the Cayetano siblings who are all law graduates.

Pimentel added that between himself and Hontiveros, the latter could take part in the Commission on Appointments as they study the track record and competence of the appointees to the administration of President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

“Whatever we find out or whatever grave concern that we have will be divulged during the confirmation hearings of these nominees by the Commission on Appointments," he said.

The leaders of the 19th Congress are already shaping up, likely to be headed by aspiring Senate president Juan Miguel Zubiri, who is running unopposed so far.

Earlier this month, Zubiri said he already committed leadership positions and panel chairmanships should he take the top post in the upper chamber, with Sen. Loren Legarda to be the Senate president pro tempore and Sen. Joel Villanueva as majority leader.

RELATED: Legarda for SP pro tempore, Villanueva for majority leader under Zubiri Senate presidency 

Incumbent Senate President and Senate President pro tempore Vicente "Tito" Sotto III and Ralph Recto, respectively, will officially end their term at noon of June 30. Zubiri, currently majority leader, will serve as officer-in-charge of the chamber until the start of the 19th Congress on July 25.

If Pimentel is elected as minority leader, he will succeed the post of incumbent Minority Leader Franklin Drilon in the next Congress.