Latest Stories

No surprise–Drilon, Belmonte are it

Speaker calls for prudent spending in wake of pork barrel scandal


MANILA, Philippines—Reelected Speaker Feliciano Belmonte on Monday called on politicians to be prudent in spending public funds amid a raging scandal involving the expenditure of P10 billion in lawmakers’ pork barrel for phantom projects and services.

In his acceptance speech after beating two contenders by garnering 245 votes, Belmonte called on his colleagues to “nurture a legal ethos that mandates and extols prudence in spending, and transparency and accountability in the use of public funds, especially in the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or PDAF.”

The PDAF is the pork barrel of P70 million a year for each member of the House and P200 million to each member of the Senate to finance their pet projects.

Belmonte brought up the matter in the wake of the widening investigation into a private company’s alleged siphoning off of some P10 billion in pork into its bank accounts with the collaboration of five senators and 23 members of the House over the last 10 years.

Tightened guidelines

“A strict obedience to much tightened guidelines on the use of public resources is the strongest guarantee of efficiency, ensuring that every peso spent generates exponential returns for our people,” Belmonte said.

Belmonte defeated San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez to lead the House for a third time since 2001.

He took his oath before Cebu Rep. Anthony Gullas Jr., who at 28 is the youngest member of the House.

Belmonte said his pork allocations since becoming a member of the House in 1992 had been “spent strictly within my district in Quezon City, always subject to public scrutiny, and sometimes to criticism.”

Belmonte’s reclaiming the speakership came as no surprise in a House dominated by the ruling Liberal Party of the administration.

Reelected Speaker Feliciano Belmonte (left) and new Senate president Franklin Drilon

Minority leadership

The surprise came in the selection of the minority leader, which, until the last votes were counted, had been a toss-up between Zamora and Romualdez.

In the election for Speaker, Zamora came second to Belmonte, edging out Romualdez by only two votes, 18-16.

Under the rules, the contender who gets the second highest number of votes wins the minority leadership.

Zamora got the upper hand two days earlier when he received the support of the seven-member Makabayan bloc. As supposedly agreed upon, Zamora and Romualdez were to meet on Sunday to determine who had the edge.

Had the matter been settled, there was no more need for Zamora and Romualdez to contest the position during the full-house vote on Monday, according to a representative who was in touch with both camps.

But that was not the case. Minutes after Taguig City Rep. Lino Cayetano nominated Zamora for Speaker, Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay took the floor and nominated Romualdez.

Automatic win

Voting commenced and it was clear that Belmonte was headed for a runaway victory. That being the case, the focus shifted to the outcome of the contest for the minority leadership. At one point, Zamora and Romualdez were tied, each with 14 votes.

But by placing second to Belmonte in the contest for the speakership, Zamora automatically clinched the minority leadership.

In his speech, Belmonte promised to collaborate with the Senate and the executive branch to “craft a legislative agenda that will generate greater economic activity in our country.”

“Reducing the impediments to the ease of doing business even as we rationalize our incentives framework, and creating a more even and stable regulatory framework that will rid the private sector of its fears from funding our economic expansion, especially in such critical areas as power and energy, are essential if we are to sustain our growth and employ the jobless,” he said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Congress , Feliciano Belmonte , Franklin Drilon , Philippines , Politics , Senate

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  4. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  5. Senator Pimentel backs German think tank’s stand vs dynasties
  6. Bar proctor suspended for photographing test papers
  7. Collector Danny Garcia says Inquirer worth more than news
  8. Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  9. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Tagle: Christ’s resurrection a message of hope to faithful
  • Aquino vows to intensify anti-corruption drive further
  • Unease in Vatican over cardinal’s luxury flat—report
  • Nepal calls off search for missing guides on Everest—official
  • Pope’s Easter Message ‘Urbi et Orbi’
  • Sports

  • Rain or Shine grabs No.4, sends Ginebra to 8th
  • Red-hot Alaska rips injury-depleted San Mig Coffee
  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Lifestyle

  • Angono petroglyphs in danger of disappearing
  • Britain’s baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Marketplace