Division of spoils: Minority senators get remnantsBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Senate majority has reserved five committee chairmanships for senators in the minority, chamber president Franklin Drilon said on Thursday.
Drilon made the announcement after the majority apportioned among themselves more than 20 committee chairmanships when the Senate met on it second and third session days earlier this week to set its house in order.
The Senate President described the five committees as “major and relevant.”
“In the 15th Congress, all these important committees were headed by senators belonging to the majority,” said Drilon in a statement.
“It’s up to… the minority bloc how they would distribute the committees among its members or whether they would accept them or not,” he said.
Sen. Vicente Sotto III, the deputy minority leader, said he and the five other members of the minority will meet next week to discuss their options.
“We’ll meet on Monday to make the final decisions,” said Sotto in a text message.
The five committees offered to the minority are economic affairs; agrarian reform; social justice, welfare and rural development; urban planning, housing and resettlement; and labor, employment and human resource development.
Drilon said the minority would also have three representatives in the influential Commission on Appointments which is headed by the Senate President, while the majority would have nine.
The members of the bloc apart from Sotto are Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, JV Ejercito and Nancy Binay.
Enrile, who is ex-officio member of all the Senate committees, isn’t expected to take on a chairmanship, while Sotto has said he won’t take on any.
The agrarian reform and labor committees were chaired in the 15th Congress by Honasan and Estrada, respectively, while urban planning was headed by Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The economic affairs and social welfare committees were under now ex-senators Manny Villar and Francis Pangilinan, respectively.
Sotto said this time around Estrada was interested in chairing the committee on labor; Honasan, agrarian reform; Ejercito, economic affairs, and Binay, urban planning.
“But then again, we will only finalize their decisions on Monday. For me, I have decided not to accept any chairmanship,” he said.
The Senate majority has assigned committee chairmanships to Pia Cayetano, education; Teofisto Guingona III, blue ribbon, and peace and unification; Lito Lapid, tourism; Ferdinand Marcos, local government and public works; Ralph Recto, public services;
Juan Edgardo Angara, ways and means; Benigno Aquino IV, trade and commerce; Francis Escudero, finance; Loren Legarda, climate change, environment, and cultural communities; Antonio Trillanes IV, national defense; Aquilino Pimentel III, justice, electoral reforms; Cynthia Villar, agriculture, and Grace Poe, public information, public order and dangerous drugs.
Majority Leader Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is chair of the committee on rules.
Senate minority bloc to get five committee chairmanships