In this May 22, 2019 photo, Commission on Elections proclaims the 12 winning senators for the 2019 midterm elections. Senate President Tito Sotto said the senators would have to reach a consensus on committee chairmanships as newcomers would want major committees being handled by the incumbents.
The STAR/Mong Pintolo
Competition for committee chairmanships a 'headache' for Senate — Sotto
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - May 29, 2019 - 2:41pm

Some committees have no takers

MANILA, Philippines — Jostling for the chairmanship of committees at the Senate is a potential source of problems as the chamber prepares for the 18th Congress, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said Wednesday.

Sotto, in a television interview, admitted that there are committees that two or three senators want to take over.

"As a matter of fact, right now, there are probably only two or three committees that are really giving us a headache," Sotto told ANC.

According to the Senate president, these are the committees on Education, Justice, Public Services, and the blue ribbon committee—which is formally called the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations.

Chairs chosen by consensus, compromise

The senators would have to build a consensus or what Sotto called the "art of compromise" in electing committee chairs.

"That is where the problem lies. So we have to build the consensus of the members, we have to talk to those who would be willing to forego their committees and offer another committee," Sotto said.

Sotto noted that incumbent senators elected in 2016, as well as the reelectionists elected in the 2019 polls, already have their own committees.

"They are here for the next six years, so we call them the incumbents, and there is a tradition in the Senate that we call the equity of the incumbent in choosing the chairmanships," he said.

If the Senate cannot reach a consensus, Sotto said he would "toss" the committee chairmanships to the body.

In this scenario, majority of the senators would have to elect their preferred colleagues of the "problematic" committees.

Some committees, however, are open and there are no takers such as the Ways and Means—which handles tax measures—and Finance committees.

According to Sotto, they are going to elect Sen. Sonny Angara to the Finance committee while there would most probably be an election for the Ways and Means committee chairmanship.

Sotto noted that Senator-elect Bato dela Rosa is interested in the committee on illegal drugs. Sen. Panfilo Lacson chairs the panel but has said he is willing to hand leadership of the committee to the neophyte senator.

"An experienced senator knows that being chair of any committee is not really that important. You can be very participative or very involved in any of the committees even if you are not a chair or a vice chair, or not even a member. It's not a title," Sotto said.

There are 40 committees that will be distributed among 24 senators when the 18th Congress opens in July.

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