SENATOR Leila de Lima was evicted chair of the Senate committee on justice and was immediately replaced by Senator Richard Gordon. It was Senator Manny Pacquiao, who made a motion on the floor to declare the chairmanship as well as the membership of the committee, which is investigating the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country since the Duterte administration took over . Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon objected to the motion, which prompted to the suspension of the session and the holding of a senators’ caucus.
When the session resumed, the chamber immediately put to a vote the motion. Drilon maintained his objection, seconded by neophyte Senator Risa Hontiveros. “We register our objection. We believe there’s no basis for the motion,” Drilon said. Hontiveros said: “On behalf of Akbayan party, I respectfully register my objection.” Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III then decided to divide the chamber and made the roll call vote. Sixteen senators voted in favor of Pacquiao’s motion, four were against it while two abstained.
The four who voted against the motion were Drilon, Hontiveros and Senators Bam Aquino and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. Drilon, Aquino and Pangilinan are members of the Liberal Party, while Hontiveros belongs to the Akbayan partylist group but she ran under the LP-led slate during the last May 2016 elections. During the voting, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto manifested that the minority bloc would not take part in the voting, saying the issue should be resolved among the majority group.
After the voting, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III immediately moved to elect “reluctant” Gordon as new head of the committee and Senator Panfilo Lacson as vice chairman. Senators Pacquiao, Pangilinan, de Lima, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Grace Poe, Alan Cayetano were also elected members of the committee. /rga/ac