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Philippine senators ouster was to ‘make a statement’ –Lacson
By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Feb. 28 (PNA) -- The motion of Sen. Manny Pacquiao to oust senators belonging to the Liberal Party (LP) from key positions and chairmanships was to “make a statement”, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.

Lacson, in an interview, said that there was no intention to strip LP senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros of their Senate committees because if they did, they would not leave them with any committees left.

Upon motion by Pacquiao on Monday, Sen. Franklin Drilon was ousted as Senate President Pro-Tempore while Senators Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan and Aquino were ousted as chairs of the Health, Agriculture and Education committees, respectively.

However, Hontiveros still chairs the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality and Aquino still chairs the Committee on Science and Technology.

Senators Joseph Vicente Ejercito, Cynthia Villar, and Francis Escudero became the new chairs of the Senate Committees on Health, Agriculture and Education, respectively.

This led to the LP senators cutting ties with the majority bloc and transferring to the minority. The new minority has six members namely Aquino, Hontiveros, Pangilinan and Trillanes. Detained Sen. Leila de Lima, through a letter, also manifested to join the minority bloc.

Lacson said that it was he, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Gringo Honasan and Loren Legarda who initiated talks in Pacquiao’s home in Makati on Sunday which eventually led to the decision on the ouster.

He said it was “not decided overnight.”

”When we held that meeting Sunday evening in the nice house of Sen Pacquiao, that's when the decision was firmed up. There were reservations as to the timing and I myself was the one who pushed,” Lacson said.

”The four of us initiated it. Senators Honasan, Sotto and partly Legarda. We were the ones who observed and asked ‘why is our current situation like this?’”

He noted that reorganizing the Senate was “always political” but clarified that it did not involve being pressured by Malacañang.

”I for one will not agree to any move ng majority that had pressure from Malacañang. There is absolutely no pressure. We decided this among ourselves,” he added. (PNA)

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