There are 40 committees to be distributed among 24 senators, but those belonging to the majority bloc will have first dibs on the choice of panels to chair when the new Congress opens in July.
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Sotto: Minority will have committees to chair
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Senators belonging to the minority bloc are assured of committee chairmanships in the incoming 18th Congress.

There are 40 committees to be distributed among 24 senators, but those belonging to the majority bloc will have first dibs on the choice of panels to chair when the new Congress opens in July.

“Everyone deserves to get a committee. No one will be left without a committee. There are more than enough for all members,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri told reporters yesterday.

The Senate started its reorganization on Monday with the expected entry of seven new members and the exit of six senators who either lost their bid for reelection or have ended their terms.

There are four senators in the opposition bloc led by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who said he is leaving it up to the chamber’s leadership on what committees will be given to his members.

“That is an issue addressed to the Senate President (Vicente Sotto III) and the majority,” Drilon said.

Sotto said as much, adding the minority senators are aware of the practice wherein the majority will be prioritized in the committee assignments.

Under the present 17th Congress, all minority senators chair committees: Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV handles the committee on civil service; Sen. Francis Pangilinan, committee on constitutional amendments; Sen. Bam Aquino, science and technology, and detained Sen. Leila de Lima, committee on social justice, welfare and rural development.

Trillanes’ term ends on June 30. Aquino lost his reelection bid.

Sotto said the equity of the incumbent rule will prevail in the assignment of committees for members of the majority, meaning they can opt to retain the panels they presently chair in the new Senate.

The assignments, however, will still have to be formalized in a vote when the 18th Congress convenes.

This early, however, some new senators allied with President Duterte are already lobbying for committees they want.       

Former Bureau of Corrections chief Ronald dela Rosa wants to have the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, currently chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.      

Lacson indicated that he was willing to relinquish the panel to Dela Rosa.

Former political affairs adviser Francis Tolentino is reportedly asking for the committees on foreign affairs and on environment.

Villar hopes to again chair the committees on agriculture and food, and on environment to continue her programs for farmers and the implementation of the Rice Competitiveness and Enhancement Fund.?She vowed to push again the passage of coconut bills that were vetoed by Duterte.


Liberal Party senatorial candidates Mar Roxas and Bam Aquino have conceded defeat in the recent midterm elections.

With 14.1 million votes, Bam ranked 14th in the final tally of the Commission on Elections. Roxas was in 16th place.

Bam thanked the volunteers for supporting his campaign even as he vowed to continue serving the people in another capacity.

“Even if we failed to get a second term, my love for our fellow Filipinos and my aspiration to serve them remain,” he said, adding, “It was an honor to serve the people as a senator.”

Roxas said that although his loss was disappointing and sad, he has accepted his fate.

“We didn’t make it. Disappointing and sad but ganyan talaga ang buhay (that’s life),” he said in a statement.

Roxas apologized for his “silence” after the May 13 polls, saying he felt it best and appropriate given the circumstances.

He thanked his supporters for believing in him as well as in the opposition slate’s values and principles.

Like Roxas and Bam, Sen. JV Ejercito conceded defeat, even as he gave assurance that he is leaving the Senate with integrity intact.

“I thank the Filipino nation for the chance to serve as a senator of our country. It has been an honor to serve you,” Ejercito posted on Twitter.

He said he wanted to be remembered for his bills in the Senate such as the Universal Health Care Law and the Free College Education Act, among others. 

Ejercito said he does not feel any bitterness with his defeat, noting he is comforted by the public’s overwhelming messages of support. He finished 13th in the elections. – With Helen Flores, Eva Visperas

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