Drilon: Koko Pimentel will be Senate President of 17th Congress

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — A majority of the 24-member Senate and various political parties will support Sen. Koko Pimentel as the next Senate President, Sen. Franklin Drilon announced Wednesday.

“We agreed that Koko Pimentel is our next Senate President,” Drilon said in a news forum in Manila.

According to the outgoing Senate President, the Liberal Party, Akbayan, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Nationalist People's Coalition, and other political groups have agreed to support the lone member of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in the Senate.

Drilon said Pimentel is very qualified for the position and has the backing of about 17 senators.

Pimentel chaired several committees in the 16th Congress – electoral reforms, justice and human rights, the select oversight committee on the local government code of 1991, and the joint congressional oversight committee on the automated election system.

Pimentel is the only party mate of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte in the Senate.

Drilon said a Senate President having no party mate in the chamber is unprecedented.

Senate in the 17th Congress: Makeup and alliances

Nevertheless, it shows that senators are willing to support the legislative agenda of the incoming administration, he said.

He said, however, they will maintain the independence of the Senate.

Drilon also said he would be the Senate President Pro Tempore, while Sen. Vicente Sotto III would be the Senate Majority Floor leader when the 17th Congress opens on July 25.

There have been no discussions yet on who will be Minority Floor leader but Drilon explains that following tradition whoever challenges the Senate presidency and loses usually assumes the role of minority leader.

Drilon is a member of the LP, part of the outgoing ruling coalition, and a four-time Senate President. He said he decided not to make a run for the top post for the sake of “unity and stability.”

Pimentel's father, Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., also served as Senate President from November 2000 to June 2001.