AFTER President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with some senators last week, a Senate revamp was put into effect yesterday with Senate Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon losing his post to Sen. Ralph Recto and his Liberal Party (LP) party mates losing their committee chairmanships. This resulted in the formation in the Upper Chamber of a new minority bloc.

The move is not totally unexpected considering the LP members’ increasingly loud opposition to some of the policies of the Duterte administration. That resulted in an awkward positioning within the “supermajority” that was formed last year and allowed Aquilino Pimentel III of the administration party PDP-Laban to win the Senate presidency over Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte’s running mate in the May 2016 polls.

The realignment means that the President is tightening his hold on the Senate, which in turn means that Pimentel no longer has enough elbow room to make himself and the Senate appear independent unlike Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and the House of Representatives. On the other side of the fence, this means that the LP’s days of “namamangka sa dalawang ilog” are over--it is now fully with the opposition where it belongs.

The question is up to where will the President bring the realignment? Will LP members in the House also be the target of a purge? LP lawmakers there who are also part of the “supermajority” are, however, not as vocal as the LP senators, but they are being pressured to toe the administration line on major issues like the push for the reimposition of the death penalty. If a purge does happen, how many of these lawmakers will remain with the LP?

Anyway, this development could be good for the health of the country’s democracy. When Duterte assumed the presidency, only a few politicians were willing to carry the burden of being with the opposition, resulting in the virtual muting of criticisms of the Duterte administration’s policies. That “few” included Sens. Leila de Lima, Antonio Trillanes and, to a certain extent Panfilo Lacson and the minority group in the House led by Rep. Edcel Lagman.

With the clearer demarcation line, the LP can better scrutinize the policies and acts of the Duterte administration.