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Senate opens first session of 18th Congress

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday opened its first regular session of the 18th Congress, hours before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto banged the gavel at10 a.m., signaling the opening of the session.

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Twenty-two out of 24 senators attended the opening of the session.

Senator Manny Pacquiao was not able to attend the opening session as he is still in Las Vegas a day after his victorious world title fight against Keith Thurman while opposition Senator Leila de Lima remains in detention on drug charges.

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The 12 reelected and neophyte senators who won in the recent midterm elections –  Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Bong Go, Pia Cayetano, Ronald dela Rosa, Sonny Angara, Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, Francis Tolentino, Koko Pimentel, Bong Revilla and Nancy Binay — are set to take their oath of office.

The upper chamber of Congress is also set to elect the Senate President, Majority Leader, Minority Leader, Secretary and Sergeant-at-Arms.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto would preside over the session until the Senate President is elected.

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The Senate President shall be elected by a majority vote of all the members through a roll call vote.

An oath-taking of the newly-elected Senate leader will follow.

Sotto is expected to retain his post as the Senate President this year, as well as Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The Senate and the House of Representatives will hold a joint session at 4 p.m. Monday at the Batasang Pambansa for President Duterte’s Sona. / gsg

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