Press Release
July 23, 2016

"Allan and I belong to one camp"
Koko, incoming Senate president, focuses on legislative priorities

With his election as the next president of the Senate already assured, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said today he was committed to shepherding the urgent reform agenda of the Duterte Administration topped by the search for peace, a shift in the system of government and an all-out war on crime, drugs and corruption.

Interviewed over DZMM, the incoming Senate president confirmed he has had talks with his chief rival for the top Senate post, the defeated vice-presidential candidate Allan Peter Cayetano that averted a showdown on Monday when the new Congress opens.

"Nag-usap na kami in Allan. We belong to one camp. Everyone is supportive and protective of the president," said Pimentel, who is chairman of the administration party PDP Laban.

Pimentel has vowed to be an activist and reformist leader of the chamber and to "hit the ground running."

Turning to the Senate's priorities, he gave assurances of full support to President Duterte's reform initiatives amid an unprecedented public approval rating of 91 percent for the new leader who ran in the May elections on a platform of change.

Topping Pimentel's list is the shift to the federal system of government that would give greater autonomy to the regions, most especially the areas of conflict in Muslim Mindanao, which have been rocked by more than four decades of internecine violence.

Also high in the agenda is the "search for peace" with Muslim rebels and the Communist insurgency led by the National Democratic Front-New People's Army. "We are ready to give this search for peace our legislative support and moral support," he said.

The war on illegal drugs, which the administration has pursued relentlessly in recent weeks, will be strengthened by a bill that would bring back the death penalty for those who commit heinous crimes such as drug trafficking.

"This is not only a deterrent but in the words of President Duterte, retribution for the crimes done against the people," Pimentel said.

"Kung may pagkukulang pa sa batas, handa kaming tumulong," he vowed.

The other priorities in the list include a long-needed reform of the tax system to ease the burden on the ordinary wage earner; greater infrastructure spending and budget reform that would reflect the President's priorities, Pimentel said.

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