Press Release
March 25, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today expressed doubt whether Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will be replaced, as suggested by some lawmakers, supposedly to avert a power vacuum that may arise from a failure of the automated elections on May 10.

Pimentel said he does not think that there will be a failure of elections that would necessitate the installation of a new Senate president whose term will go beyond June 30 to act as interim president of the republic.

He also said it would be an impossible task to call the l4th Congress to a special session to pave the way for a Senate leadership change because of the difficulty of mustering a quorum while the senators and congressmen are busy with their election campaign.

"Failure of elections will not happen in the country. Our elections do not need a majority plus one vote to have a winner. If we have 50 million voters, the Constitution does not require the winning presidential candidate to get 25 million plus one votes. We follow the plurality rule. In other words, whoever gets the highest number of votes is the winner," the veteran legislator from Mindanao explained.

"If there are some voting machines that will fail in Luzon, some that will fail in Mindanao, some in the Visayas, but others will function. And the results will be made the basis for proclaiming the winner. Those who did not believe in the results can go through the usual way of protesting."

Pimentel said he favors the removal of Enrile as Senate president because he is disgusted with his "authoritarian" manner of running the chamber, and not because of the feared failure of elections.

"But that is not for me to decide. In fairness to him, Senator Enrile will be replaced only if there is a Senate session. But the Senate cannot be called into session by itself. The l4th Congress should be called to a special session by the President, but there is obviously no time for that because members of Congress are busy campaigning. So there will be no quorum," he said.

"What will happen? In all likelihood, Enrile will stay on as Senate president until the elections are over. In which case, he will no longer be Senate president in the next Congress unless he is elected by the new Senate."

It was Sen. Edgardo Angara who strongly batted for the election of a new Senate president on the ground that in case of a failure of elections, Enrile cannot assume office as acting president of the republic since his term will expire on June 30.

"I want to emphasize that I have not talked with Sen. Angara or any other senator on this issue. So Sen. Enrile should not think that there is a plot to unseat him. There is no such thing. I just read Angara's opinion in the newspapers. But I commented that the scenario of a failure of elections will not happen," Pimentel said.

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