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Hontiveros not recognizing Cayetano as CA minority leader

Hontiveros not recognizing Cayetano as CA minority leader thumbnail

Xave Gregorio – Philstar.com

August 24, 2022 | 5: 20pm

In this file photo, Sen. Risa Hontiveros asks Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to bare the details of the diplomatic actions filed against China during the Senate hearing of the DFA budget.

Senate PRIB | Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano may have emerged as the victor in the apparently heated race to become the powerful Commission on Appointments’ minority leader, his rival for the position, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, is not going down without a fight.

Hontiveros told a news conference on Wednesday that she is not recognizing Cayetano’s leadership in the CA, a constitutional body that vets presidential appointments, as he is not a member of the Senate minority bloc.

“In all honesty, I cannot say that I recognize him as the CA’s minority leader because it came from something wrong. It started out from something which is non-existent,” she said in Filipino.

During the Senate’s opening session in the 19th Congress, Cayetano and his sister, Sen. Pia Cayetano, opted not to vote for Sen. Migz Zubiri as Senate president. 

Senate tradition would have placed the Cayetanos with the minority bloc, but they also chose not to join this group and instead created an “independent” bloc in the upper chamber.

While he is part of the independent bloc in the Senate, Cayetano moved that the CA reclassify him as part of the minority as he was incorrectly included as part of the upper chamber’s majority bloc.

“It cannot be that in one moment, for example during the opening session, you’re independent, and then in other times, you’re with the majority, for example in the membership of committees, then in other times, you’re with the minority like in a body like the CA,” Hontiveros said.

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Hontiveros said she does not consider to be under Alan Peter Cayetano’s leadership in the CA, which she believes is invalid as he is not part of the minority bloc in the Senate.

“The person who should have been elected as the CA’s minority leader should come from the Senate minority, the basis of which, as supported by the Supreme Court, are institutional considerations, nothing lower or less,” she said.

But Senate President Migz Zubiri said that since the Senate and the CA are two different bodies, just incidentally both composed of lawmakers, members of the latter are free to choose who their leaders are who may be different from their respective leaders in Congress.

“It’s not necessarily true that if you’re the minority leader of the Senate, you are automatically the minority leader of the CA. It is the members of the minority of the CA that will decide on who will lead the CA minority contingent,” Zubiri said in a separate news conference.

He also divulged that senators tried to find a solution to the tussle for the CA minority leadership between Alan Cayetano and Hontiveros in a caucus, which ended in most senators keeping their hands off the issue as they are not part of the minority bloc.

“Wala na po kaming magagawa diyan. (We cannot do anything about that.) It’s not my responsibility. That is not of my watch. I have no say,” Zubiri said.

It is not yet clear what the future of the minority bloc in the CA is, but Hontiveros hinted at possible actions against Alan Cayetano’s leadership of the minority in the constitutional body.

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