Press Release
July 24, 2006


The Senate is now dominated by a mutant majority. The core group of 13 who elected Villar as senate president is composed of both administration and opposition senators. Thus, the new Senate majority is an aberration at birth. If it were a car, it would be a hybrid. If it were a horse, it would be a piebald. Wonders never cease in politics. What we are seeing is the art of the political deal.

With Sen. Drilon stepping down, the Cory Aquino opposition group has lost its chief challenger to President Arroyo. As senate president, Drilon was third in succession.

As an ordinary senator, he is no longer even qualified to run for reelection in 2007. It might be the end of the presidential road for him and the Aquino group.

Drilons loss of the Senate presidency weakens the Drilon wing of the LP, and strengthens his rival. If Manila Mayor Lito Atienza runs for senator, the Atienza wing of the LP can only get stronger, and might even devour the Drilon wing.

With Sen. Villar as new Senate President, the Senate will have a rainbow coalition in the majority. Hence, the Senate majority will be toeing a precariously independent line. It is a motley mix of pro-Gloria and anti-Gloria senators.

The pro-Gloria senators in the majority are: Villar, Flavier, Arroyo, Recto, Lapid, Enrile, Revilla, and myself.

The anti-Gloria senators in the majority are: Pangilinan, Cayetano, Jinggoy Estrada, Luisa Estrada, and Lim.

There are anti-Gloria senators who are outside Villars core group, but reportedly decided to support him after he had already sewn up the 13 votes required to win. They are hoping to retain or get major committee chairs. They are Sen. Magsaysay, Gordon, and Biazon.

At present, Villar trumps Sen. Roxas as the strongest potential presidential candidate for 2010. Villar will easily win reelection next year, and will be expanding the political base of the NP which he heads.

Further, Villar stands a good chance of being endorsed in 2010 by President Arroyo. Roxas hopes to lead the anti-Arroyo coalition. If it will be Villar versus Roxas, it will be new money versus old money; self-made entrepreneur versus the scion of the privileged elite. The 2010 elections will be a battle of the big bucks, and a candidate who does not have at least P5 billion need not apply.

In his first month in office, Villar will busy himself playing musical chairs with committee chairmanships. Pursuant to tradition, his core group of 13 senators will have first pick. The process calls for delicate diplomacy, but Mannys middle name is Patience.

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