3 lawmakers slam ouster as panel chiefs amid clash over House speakership
MANILA, Philippines —Three members of the House of Representatives denounced on Wednesday their removal as committee chairpersons in the middle of a leadership contest between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
A day before, the House leadership announced an “election” that resulted in the turnover of the chairmanships of the following:
- the Committee on Health, with Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan being replaced by Guimaras Rep. Lucille Nava
- the Committee on Economic Affairs, with Rep. Sharon Garin of the AAMBIS-OW party-list group being replaced by Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr.
- the Committee on Youth and Sports, with Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez being replaced by Manila Rep. Yul Servo Nieto
In separate interviews, Tan, Garin, and Martinez — perceived as allies of Velasco — bewailed how politics tarnished once again the reputation of the House of Representatives even during the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.
Garin said she expected her removal after she joined Velasco’s entourage in a meeting last Sept. 27 with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang, where spoke openly about the need for lawmakers to stick to the “15-21” term-sharing agreement.
“I’m one of the casualties of war because of the fight between Velasco and Speaker Cayetano. But unfortunately, also, the casualty is our whole nation,” Garin said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel.
“Politics is very brutal,” Garin added.
But then she said that by removing her, along with 1-Pacman Rep. Michael Romero, who was ousted as deputy speaker, Cayetano alienated the sectoral representatives in the House.
Romeo is the president of the Party-list Coalition.
“So, that is like we’re abandoning already the due proportion and fairness that we have traditionally done in the House. That I cannot comprehend,” Garin said. “I’ve been very protective of fair and equitable treatment for the party-list representatives in Congress, and this kind of replacement is for me is unfair and inequitable.”
Martinez, the erstwhile chair of the House youth and sports committee, said he was not even given the “courtesy as a member of the House” to be notified of his impending ouster.
According to the Valenzuela lawmaker, he might have earned Cayetano’s for rallying his party mates to “hold the line and insist on the term-sharing agreement.”
“As one of the original members of PD- Laban, [I think] there is nothing wrong with sticking to the principles of our party and trying to protect its interest. Even our party leader, President Duterte already said that we abide by the term sharing agreement,” Valenzuela said in a phone interview.
“If there is one thing that what we have proven here is that we [in PDP Laban] are not the hooligans here,” he added.
Tan said she was surprised when she heard the news about her removal, saying no one had warned her of her impending ouster.
Tan said she lamented her removal because Cayetano himself assured chairpersons that they would retain their posts despite differences in positions. She added that she was not even a delinquent member of the House.
“So, if I am to hold on to his statement, I also want to hear from his mouth what could be the reason for my removal as chair of the committee because only he has answers for that. Personally, I cannot see any reason as I do not have any bad relationship with the Speaker,” Tan said.
With the swift passage of the proposed 2021 national budget, lawmakers have lost the opportunity to propose amendments to the General Appropriations Bill,.
She said was poised to suggest the restoration of the cuts made in the budget of the Department of Health.
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