MANILA - The upper chamber of Congress will be independent but cooperative with Malacañang, re-elected Senate President Vicente Sotto said Monday, as several items remained on President Rodrigo Duterte's legislative agenda halfway into his term.
Duterte, in his annual report to the nation on Monday, is expected to bat for a new constitution, the rest of his tax reform package, the revival of death penalty for drug traffickers, and a lower minimum age of criminal responsibility.
"We have our own perspective of things. We promise to remain independent although cooperative. We promise to be balanced and sincere with our work for the people," Sotto told ANC.
The Senate will also remain independent, he reiterated.
"The Senate is composed of 24 independent republics and we can assure you that those who are so-called President's men will feel the aura of the Senate itself," said the Senate President.
"I may be friends with the President since 1988, but it doesn't mean that we will have to take everything that the Palace will give us," he added.
Senators will prioritize tackling bills that languished in the 17th Congress, including the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act, and the Public Services Act concerning water, transportation and energy problems, Sotto said.