MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's allies who are poised to join the upper chamber of Congress after the midterm election this week will be independent, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Thursday.
Nine of 12 available seats in the Senate looked set to go to administration candidates and the rest to "independents," unofficial tallies showed.
Among the 9 administration bets are Duterte's former longtime aide Christopher Go, former national police chief Ronald Dela Rosa and former presidential adviser Francis Tolentino.
"Susunod ba basta-basta iyan? I doubt it," Sotto said of the trio.
(Will they just follow orders? I doubt it.)
Referring to Go, Sotto said: "Kilala ko s'ya. 'Pag may ipinilit ang Palasyo at hindi n'ya type, hindi n'ya gusto, papalag iyun, magsasabi iyun doon. The way I know him ha, hindi basta pikit-mata susunod."
(I know him, if the Palace insists on something and he doesn't like it, he will object, he'll tell them. Based on how I know him, he will not follow blindly.)
"Lalo na kapag nag-oath na sa June 30 iyan, nag-oath na, you already owe it to the millions who voted for you, not to those who endorsed you," he added.
A Senate majority may cut the chance of censures and House investigations against Duterte's rule, making it easier to co-opt independents and remove the few remaining hurdles to an ambitious agenda for massive infrastructure spending, re-drafting the constitution, and the return of the death penalty.
The odds that death penalty and constitutional change would be approved in the 18th Congress "would be based on its merits... not because it is being endorsed by the President," said Sotto.
Duterte, he said, "has never interfered, called" about passing these measures.
"If our leadership is retained, we would like to maintain an independent, transparent and sincere Senate like what we have done in the 17th Congress," Sotto said.
Sotto needs 13 votes from his colleagues to remain Senate President in the next Congress.
With a report from Reuters