Pangilinan, Villar in tight battle for Senate presidency

Posted at 07/06/10 8:13 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The battle for the Senate presidency is on, with Senators Manuel "Manny" Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party and Francis Pangilinan of Liberal Party (LP) tightly competing for the support of their fellow senators.

Villar is seeking the support of the so-called deciding block in the Senate, led by Senator Edgardo Angara.

Joining Angara are Senators Miguel Zubiri, Loren Legarda, Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan, Manuel "Lito" Lapid, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., and Vicente "Tito" Sotto III.

They join the members of the Senate who are already Villar allies: Senators Pia and Alan Peter Cayetano, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Miriam Defensor Santiago, and Joker Arroyo.

Among these senators, Villar is said to be already certain of the support of Legarda, his running mate in the May polls.

Angara said Villar has been in talks with their group for quite some time.

But Angara's group will not make a decision, until it has talked to Pangilinan.

Angara added party affiliations will not be a factor in their decision.

Meanwhile, Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada confirmed he has signed a resolution supporting Pangilinan.

It is likely Pangilinan will also get the support of Estrada's party-mate, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

If Pangilinan gets Enrile's support, he will have a total of 9 senators backing his bid.

These include his LP party-mates, Senators Frank Drilon, Teofisto "TG" Guingona III and Ralph Recto, and their allies, Senators Serge Osmeña, Francis "Chiz" Escudero and Estrada.

Villar, meanwhile, has seven votes.   

While the battle for the Senate Presidency is tight, Quezon City Representative Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. is almost sure to get the House Speakership.

Quezon 4th district Lorenzo "Erin" Tañada III said over 150 congressmen have already pledged their support for Belmonte

Belmonte, being in the LP, is also the bet of President Benigno Aquino III. -- Report from Sheryll  Mundo, ABS-CBN News