5 committees offered to Senate minority bloc

Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Senators belonging to the minority bloc would get a handful of permanent committees in keeping with the tradition of the Senate.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said at least five committees – economic affairs; agrarian reform; social justice, welfare and rural development; urban planning, housing and resettlement and labor, employment and human resource development – were offered to the six-man minority bloc.

“We will not break the tradition so the minority will have committee chairmanships as well and it will be announced as we resume session next week,” he said.

The offer came after most of what are considered as major committees were distributed among the members of the majority bloc.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada met with Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano the other night to discuss the request of the minority bloc to head some of the committees.

Estrada said the minority bloc acknowledges that they would have no say in committee chairmanships.

“That is the tradition, that is how it works. It’s an accepted tradition in the Senate,” he said. “As I said before, we are at the mercy of the majority.”

Apart from Estrada, the Senate minority bloc is composed of former Senate president now Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Vicente Sotto III, Gregorio Honasan II, JV Ejercito and Nancy Binay.

Drilon said the committees being offered to the minority bloc are as important as those assigned to administration senators, noting that senators belonging to the majority in the 15th Congress headed them.

He said the minority leader, like the majority leader, is also an ex-officio member of all permanent committees even though he does not usually get any committee.

Apart from the chairmanship of some committees, Drilon said the minority bloc would also have three representatives in the Commission on Appointments.

“It is up to the discretion of the minority bloc as to how they plan to distribute these committees to its members and whether they will accept them or not,” he said.

Sotto earlier said he is not interested to head any committee.

Senate reorganization

Sen. Francis Escudero was elected chairman of the committee on finance. He gave up his chairmanship of the committee on education, arts and culture, which would now be headed by Sen. Pia Cayetano.

“Finance, being one of the largest jurisdictions, traditionally the chairman of committee on finance would not have any other committee, so Sen. Escudero graciously gave up (the education committee),” according to the majority leader.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara was elected chairman of the ways and means committee, which was held by Sen. Ralph Recto for the longest time. He was also elected chairman of the committee on games, amusement and sports.

Recto is now Senate President Pro-Tempore.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected chairman of the committees on public works and local government.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III would remain as chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee as well as the committee on peace, unification and reconciliation.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who already heads the committee on national defense and security, was elected chairman of the committee on government corporations and public enterprises.

Sen. Loren Legarda was given three committees – environment and natural resources, climate change and cultural communities.

Sen. Manuel Lapid would head the committee on cooperatives.

There are 39 permanent committees in the Senate and 23 have so far been filled up.

Cayetano said the allocation of committee chairmanships to the allies of President Aquino was necessary to ensure that the advocacies of the administration are supported by the approval of priority measures.

“It is very important that the allies who think alike in advocacies get the said positions because how would you be able to pass the laws or forward these advocacies if the ones handling them do not believe in the reforms being pushed by the President,” he said.

CA House contingent

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has organized its contingent in the CA.

Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Party, was elected head of the contingent. He automatically becomes CA vice chairman. Drilon chairs the appointments body in an ex-officio capacity.

Named House panel members were Antonio del Rosario of Capiz, George Arnaiz of Negros Oriental, Anton Lagdameo of Davao del Norte, Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte, Rommel Amatong of Compostela Valley, Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, Rosendo Labadlabad of Zamboanga del Norte, Roy Loyola of Cavite and Conrado Estrella III of the party-list group Abono.

Representing the minority in the House CA panel is Rodito Albano of Isabela. – With Jess Diaz













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