Q: Can you help us understand what happened during the Commission on Appointments (CA) yesterday, because, well, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was supposed to be part of the majority bloc and then suddenly he became the CA minority leader. What will happen to Senator Risa Hontiveros? From what we understand, isa lang ‘yong dapat na minority sa CA.
SP Zubiri: Actually, admittedly by Sen. Joel Villanueva nabanggit niya kasi ‘yong pangalan ni Sen. Cayetano as part of the majority on the floor. But Sen. Cayetano is not part of the majority, he is an independent member of the Senate. Let us correct this once and for all: he did not vote for me. Under the Rules of the House and of the Senate, those who do not vote for you, are usually part of the minority. Same goes through to the House, same goes through for the Senate. Hindi po siya bumoto sa akin, dalawampu lang po kami, ang members ng majority.
Technically, he’s part of the minority but he declares himself as an independent member which has precedent in the past with senators like, Sen. Serge Osmena, and others. Sen. Joker Arroyo at one point also, and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago also declared themselves as independent members of the Senate. So, technically under the rules, he is part of the minority. Apat lang sila hindi bumoto sa akin. And so, in the declaration of the members of the CA, that’s why I corrected it. I spoke and put on record that he is actually an independent member of the Senate and should have been detailed in the letter as independent, not as a member of the majority.
The Commission on Appointments is an independent Constitutional Body. Hindi po ‘yan Kongreso o Senado. ‘Yan po ay independent Constitutional Body made out of the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Now, iba ‘yong composition diyan ng minority. Yan din ang explanation ko kay Risa. Sabi ko, ‘yong minority ng CA is different from the minority both of the House, and of the Senate. Ibang composition yan, so its not necessarily true that if you are member of the minority in the Senate, that you are automatically the minority leader of the CA.
It is the members of the minority in the CA that will decide on who will lead the CA minority leader contingent. It just so happened that by tradition, it is a Senator. Ano ‘yan eh, hatian. ‘Yong majority leader ng CA is a congressman and the minority leader is a senator because the CA is led by a Senator, which is myself, the Senate President and the co-chair, the vice-chair, is a Congressman.
So, in this case, may dalawang gustong lumaban as minority leader sa CA from the Senate. Hindi namin madesis’yonan eh, nag-caucus kami dito. Hindi madesis’yonan. Ayaw mag give-way ni Alan, ayaw din mag give-way ni Risa. Alan said: “Let’s just put it to a vote.” Of this, I said: “We in the majority cannot vote for you guys, kasi we are not within the realm of our responsibility to choose who are the members of the minority.
That’s not how it is,” ‘Yong mga member ng minority ang pipili kung sino ang mag-le-lead sa kanila. It so happened that the two members of the minority in the House – Cong. Johnny Pimentel and Cong. GP Padiernos chose Alan Cayetano to lead the minority bloc in the CA.
Wala na po kami magagawa diyan, that is not my responsibility that is not my watch. I have no say; I am just relaying to you what transpired yesterday.
Q: Sir, technically, how many seats should be allotted to the minority bloc, kasi it’s still a numbers game, ‘di ba?
SP Zubiri: I believe it’s still one minority leader and two assistant minority leaders, right? In this case, there is only one minority member in the CA kasi hatian yan e. ‘yong CA sa Senate – there are 24 Senators, there are 12 seats. The Supreme Court has already ruled: It is either political party distribution, ‘yong equitable distribution to political parties, or sa Senado pili ka ng partner at sa inyong dalawa, mag desisyon kayo kung sino uupo sa CA. That is the hatian ng CA, yan ‘yong bibigyan na allocations. That is of course, thoroughly discussed and has been decided upon by the Supreme Court.
Q: So, sa Senate, dalawa sila, isa lang dapat ‘yong matitira?
SP Zubiri: Ang nangyari diyan nagpili sina Sen. Koko Pimentel and Sen. Risa Hontiveros, dalawa po sila. So, meron po silang isang Senate seat. They had to decide amongst themselves which amongst themselves will sit in the CA contingent. Sabi ni Sen. Koko, it is Sen. Risa Hontiveros that will represent him in the Commission of Appointments. Senator Cayetano, dalawa din po sila. Magkapatid. Senators Pia and Alan Cayetano.
They decided that Sen. Alan Cayetano will sit as a member of the CA. That is why they are in the CA contingent. To clarify, I did not choose them, they chose themselves under the distribution allocation that is explained by the Supreme Court as it was valid and legal under the Constitution.
Q: Just to clarify lang, sir. Sen. Cayetano is not part of the Senate minority, representing the minority bloc in the CA.
SP Zubiri: No, Senator Cayetano is an independent member of the Senate in the CA but he considers himself part of the minority.
Q: As you mentioned, SP, he and Sen. Pia are part of the minority or hindi?
SP Zubiri: Technically, under the Rules, those who did not vote for me are part of the minority.
Q: Sir, would you advise Sen. Risa to, somehow, just accept —
SP Zubiri: That is not part of my powers to tell them what to do. Alam mo naman na consultative ako. We are Rules-based, naman. In fairness, we are Rules-based. We just follow the Rules. In this case, it was the minority elected Sen. Cayetano. Wala po kami pakialam doon. ‘Yong members of the majority, wala po kami pakialam.
Q: Sir, kailan po kayo nag-usap ni Sen. Risa, you said, ‘yong sinabihan niyo po siya na iba ‘yong sa CA?
SP Zubiri: Yeah, here we were in a caucus yesterday at 11 before the plenary kasi ‘yon nga, gusto niya maging minority leader. Sabi ko, gusto din ni Sen. Cayetano maging minority leader. So, tinawag ko po ang ating mga senador, nandito po kami lahat, and I had to explain to them that, ladies and gentlemen, this is a different organization, different body, it’s a Constitutional Body. This body now will decide who will become – it is automatic that the Senate President will head the Commission on Appointments, that’s under the Constitution. No question iyan. The heading of the majority leadership position, and the minority leadership position, that is the choice between the body to make.
In this case, tradition dictates that the majority leader is a member of the House. The minority leader is a member of the Senate and therefor there is an election for the majority leader. There is a nomination for Congressman LRay Villafuerte to head the majority bloc of the CA. No one objected. So, then he was elected to the post of majority leader. When the question came up on minority leader, Cong. GP Padiernos nominated Alan Cayetano. At the same time, supported by the two members of the House. The other member of the House minority in the CA which is Cong. Johnny Pimentel. So, the score is 3-1. So tumayo na si Sen. Risa.
Let me correct, there was no vote done on the floor, by acclamation lang po ito, but she, of course, gave her apprehensions and manifestation dahil gusto nga niya maging minority leader. But, at the end, we did not anymore decide to call a nominal vote. Hindi na lang po siya nag-nominal vote, so si Senator Cayetano ang naging minority leader via acclamation. There was no vote, just like what I was talking about.
Ang nangyari, obviously she saw that there was two other members of the minority voting for Sen. Cayetano and therefor she no longer had the vote and therefor it was by acclamation na lang. That is the business of the minority, we have nothing to do with that. Best that you interview na lang the two of them. Ako, I have nothing to do, I do not want to get involved with that problem.
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