By Wilnard Bacelonia

Senate President Francis Escudero (left) and his predecessor, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA – Senator Joel Villanueva, one of the Senate’s new “Solid 7” bloc led by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, on Tuesday disclosed that some of them are willing to join the minority under the new leadership led by Senate President Francis “Chiz” Escudero.

In an ambush interview, Villanueva said this is one of the options to their plan of “moving forward” as members of the Senate.

“Everything is in the open, option siya. Right now, tatlo or apat sa pito sa amin are more than willing to be part of the minority if that is the case na kailangan naming gawin para mas maging epektibo kami (it is an option. Right now, three or four of the seven of us are more than willing to be part of the minority if that is what we need to do to be more effective) in helping our institution,” the former Senate majority floor leader said on the sidelines of the send-off ceremony for 16 Mobile Command Center vehicles at the Department of Social Welfare and Development central office in Batasan, Quezon City.

Besides Zubiri, he said those who have expressed their willingness to join the opposition are Senators JV Ejercito, Nancy Binay, and Sonny Angara.

The other members of the group are Villanueva and Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Loren Legarda.

“We have spoken to (Senate Minority Leader Aquilino) Koko Pimentel III and very much welcome daw kami (we are very much welcome) according to him,” Villanueva said.

On the other hand, Villanueva said they would also consult the new leadership on how they “can be of help” to the institution.

“At the end of the day, ang bottom line naming lahat dito ay kung saan kami mas magiging epektibo (the bottom line for all of us here is where we can be most effective) in helping the institution, our country, and the people,” he said.

In an earlier interview with ANC, Escudero said he is ready to have a dialogue with Zubiri.

“Since we are not enemies, I see no reason why the relationship cannot be good, although we have different views on some things,” he said.

Escudero also clarified that as of the moment, the “Solid 7” still belongs to the majority but each senator is free to manifest his/her decision to join either bloc.

In a phone interview, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said he is also open to having a dialogue with Zubiri’s group but also leaves them the option of joining the minority bloc.

“That is their option. No one can prevent them from joining the minority bloc. So be it,” Estrada said, expressing hope that “they won’t be a disruptive minority” and just be a constructive one. (PNA)