Enrile's bloc to be offered five committee chairs

Louis Bacani - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The six-member minority bloc led by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile will be offered five committees to chair in the 16th Congress, Senate President Franklin Drilon revealed on Thursday.

The five committees to be offered to the members of the minority group will include the economic affairs; agrarian reform; social justice, welfare, and rural development; urban planning, housing and resettlement; and labor, employment and human resource development.

"In the 15th Congress, all these important committees were headed by the senators belonging to the majority bloc," Drilon said.

During the last Congress, the agrarian reform and the labor committees were chaired by Senators Gringo Honasan and Jinggoy Estrada, respectively, while the urban planning went to Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The economic affairs and social welfare, on the other hand, were previously headed by former Senators Manny Villar and Francis Pangilinan, respectively.

"I have asked the majority leader Senator Alan Peter Cayetano to relay to the minority bloc that we are offering them five committee chairmanships," said Drilon, describing these committees as "major and relevant committees."

He stressed that the minority leader becomes an ex-officio member of all standing committees and, usually, does not get committee chairmanship.

Drilon also emphasized that the minority bloc will have three representatives in the powerful Commission on Appointments which is headed by the sitting Senate President, while the majority will get to have nine.

"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 added.

"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," said the Senate President.

Aside from Enrile, the other members of the minority bloc include Senators Vicente Sotto III, Nancy Binay, Estrada, JV Ejercito, and Honasan.

The Senate has already begun distributing committee chairmanships, with senators belonging to the administration coalition bagging some of the most sought after committees during the first round of assignments.

Related story: Noy’s allies secure plum Senate committee chairmanships

Three of the neophyte senators who ran under the administration’s Team PNoy coalition – Senators Grace Poe, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Cynthia Villar – were among first to be given committee assignments.

Poe, the 2013 election topnotcher, was given the committees on public information and mass media and public order and illegal drugs.

Aquino, the President's cousin and the youngest member of the Senate, would handle the committee on trade and commerce, also among his preferred committees, considering his familiarity with the sector of entrepreneurship.











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