The issue of which senator will chair a particular committee has been a cause of friction between incumbent senators and new members of the chamber that triggered rumors of Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s possible ouster.
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Sotto: Committee chair contest 95% resolved
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The scramble for chairmanships of Senate committees for the coming 18th Congress is now “95 percent resolved” following a dinner meeting among senators on Wednesday.

The issue of which senator will chair a particular committee has been a cause of friction between incumbent senators and new members of the chamber that triggered rumors of Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s possible ouster.

“95 percent. We assume all is well. Just one or two committees (more),” Sotto told reporters after their hour-long dinner hosted by Sen. Manny Pacquiao in his Makati residence.

He described the meeting as “very good” and “way beyond cordial” and “because of it, I could say the relationship of the senators was off to a good start.”

During the meeting, Sotto stressed the importance of the Senate remaining independent while cooperating with the Duterte administration on reform legislation.

Weeks before the meeting, which was held a day after the 17th Congress adjourned session, rumors were rife about Sotto being replaced, a move allegedly instigated by incoming senators led by senator-elect Francis Tolentino.

Reports said Tolentino, who apparently was exerting pressure to be given the committees he wants, urged Sen. Cynthia Villar to run for Senate president even as she repeatedly told reporters that she was not eyeing the post.

Villar, Sens. Aquilino Pimentel III and Panfilo Lacson and senator-elect Pia Cayetano were not able to join the dinner meeting due to personal commitments.

The senators, including those absent, were asked by Sotto to submit a list of three committees of their choice. The chamber, however, still observes the equity of the incumbent rule where sitting senators chairing committees will have first dibs on whether or not to let go of their chairmanships.

Sotto disclosed the tentative committee assignments that will be confirmed in a voting when the 18th Congress opens on July 22.

 Go to chair 2 committees

Senator-elect Christopher Go will chair the committees on health and housing and urban development. Pacquiao also offered the committee on sports to Go.

 “We, as newly elected senators, respect the tradition of equity of incumbents and appreciate how the senior senators have been very accommodating with our requests and concerns. The majority bloc will decide in the coming weeks on how to best lead these committees,” Go said in a statement.

 “What’s important is that we work together so we can push our advocacies and promises during the campaign for the welfare of the people,” he added.

Go said he would respect the decision of the majority when it comes to committee chairmanships.

He assured the Filipino people that the new members of the Senate would work with the incumbent senators to improve the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government. 

He vowed to remain independent while acting as a bridge between the chamber and the executive branch to ensure that the legislative agenda of the Duterte administration would benefit the people.

Tolentino will chair the local governments committee. Senator-elect Ronald dela Rosa will be given the public order and dangerous drugs panel.

Senator-elect Bong Revilla is expected to chair the civil service committee. He also requested to head the public information and mass media panel.

Senator-elect Imee Marcos is seeking to chair the social welfare and development committee, currently chaired by detained Sen. Leila de Lima.

Pimentel is expected to chair the foreign relations committee. Sen. Grace Poe will handle the committee on banks and financial institutions.

The Senate leadership is also thinking of splitting the committee on education into two: basic education and higher education to be chaired by Sens. Sherwin Gatchalian and Joel Villanueva, respectively.

Sotto said the chamber is going to offer the committee on ways and means to Cayetano, who is still abroad.

VICENTE SOTTO III
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