28 June 2007
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, confirming that she was one of the first senators to sign the endorsement resolution, said that Sen. Manny Villar will be reelected as Senate President, and that he will observe an attitude of “enlightened scepticism” in cooperating with Malacanang on administration bills.
“I support Manny because I believe in continuity of leadership. He has already stamped his leadership style on the Senate, and it would be more efficient to keep him in the post to promote everybody’s comfort level,” Santiago said.
Santiago said she signed the pro-Villar resolution during her birthday last June 15 at a restaurant ballroom, attended by some 80 guests led by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the First Gentleman.
“Throughout the dinner, Manny engaged the President in a cordial dialogue about administration-certified measures I gathered that he intends to remain open-minded, meaning that he will not be a knee-jerk oppositionist,” Santiago said.
Santiago pointed out that Villar is not necessarily an opposition senator because he was merely a guest candidate of the opposition, and he ran as the official candidate of the Nacionalista Party, which he leads.
“His sure reelection as Senate President will give him a competitive edge over his many dreamy rivals for the 2010 presidency, because he will have the advantage of continuous media exposure and of speaking engagements that will broaden his base and at the same time enable him to strengthen his party machinery,” she said.
Santiago said that apart from Villar, the likely 2010 presidential candidates will be Senators Roxas, Lacson, Gordon, Legarda, and Madrigal.
Manny Trumps all presidentiables with his capture of the Senate presidency. The others will have to settle for running as his vice presidential candidate,” she said.
The senator reportedly told Villar she is interested in keeping her present committee chairmanships, but would prefer to exchange the energy committee with another committee devoted to a topic more “lawyer friendly.”
I expect that like me, other administration senators within the coalition will also keep their committee chairmanships. In other words, the status quo will be observed more or less,” she said.
Santiago, careful to stress that she was speculating, said that Sen. Enrile will likely be the finance chair, while Sen. Pangilinan will likely be blue ribbon chair.
“Generally, a candidate wins as Senate President if he is successfully able to distribute the committee chairmanships among his allies, on the basis of seniority and loyalty. The practice is that major committee chairmanships are given to the strongest supporters of the winner,” she said.
Santiago said that once the majority have picked their Senate President, and the minority their Minority Leader, the two officials will then discuss the remaining committee chairmanships available for the minority.
“So you see, this in not an administration-opposition thing. Instead, it is a majority-minority thing. That’s the true dynamics in the asisgnement of committee chairmanships,” she said.
Santiago as chair of both foreign relations and energy committees, as well as their respective oversight committees. She is also vice-chair of the finance committee and a member of the Commission on Appointments.