Press Release
June 17, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said he does not see any softening on the Senates position on the issue of Charter Change with the impending change in the Senate presidency.

If and when Sen. Manuel Villar assumes the Senate presidency, Pimentel said he does not think the Upper Chamber will veer away from its stand that amendments to the Constitution should be voted by the Senate and House of Representatives separately and not jointly.

He corrected the inaccurate impression that the Senate is against Charter Change. He said the senators are very much in favor of constitutional reforms but oppose the methods being used by the administration that do not conform to the Constitution.

Pimentel said advocates of Charter Change and political allies of the administration are bound to get disappointed over their wish that the Senate will go along with the Palace on the issue of Charter Change should Villar take over the helm of the Senate.

As for Manny Villar, the change in his political fortunes will not, in his words, change his attitude towards Malacañang . He has promised those whose support he has courted that he will protect the Senate as an institution and uphold the rights of the people against any other body or person who would trample upon those rights, the minority leader said.

Saying he has no reason to doubt Villars commitment to protect the independence of the Senate, Pimentel noted that Villar, as chairman of the Senate finance committee, did not yield to pressure from the Palace and the House to restore fully or substantially the cuts made by the Senate on the P1.053 trillion national budget when it was taken in the bicameral conference committee.

In fact, he said there were many times when Villar incurred the ire of Malacañang for refusing to toe the administration line on major issues.

Villar has given his word to his colleagues that if elected Senate president, he will not allow himself to become a Palace lapdog. As he has told us, Im already old and I dont want being dictated upon by the President on what to do, Pimentel said.

At the same time, he said that while its Villar turn to head the Senate under his gentlemens agreement with Senate President Franklin Drilon, that will materialize only if he has secured the votes of 13 senators.

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