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Race on for Senate finance panel chair

By: - Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 05:25 AM May 25, 2022
Facade of the Senate of the Philippines building. STORY: Race on for Senate finance panel chair

Facade of the Senate of the Philippines building. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — While wrangling for the Senate presidency in the incoming 19th Congress heats up, another plum position is attracting interest: the powerful finance committee, whose chair leads and controls discussions on the annual budget.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, the current chair, admitted that he was keen to remain at the helm of the panel but acknowledged that he might have competition among incumbent or returning colleagues in the 24-member chamber.

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Among those interested are senator-elect Loren Legarda, who chaired the panel before her previous term ended in 2019, and incumbent Sen. Imee Marcos, sister of presumptive president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“I don’t mind staying in finance since I chaired that in the 18th Congress which is wrapping up to give way to the 19th Congress,” Angara told the Inquirer in a Viber message.

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“Some senators have expressed a desire to also chair the committee including our former chair, Senator Legarda, and current vice chair, Senator Marcos,” he said.

Legarda demurred when asked to comment: “May I defer to the majority caucus, when we have formed a majority group?”

Another possible candidate besides the three is senator-elect Francis Escudero, another former chair of the committee. But according to Senate insiders, he is also being pushed to run for Senate president.

Whether it’s him or someone else, Angara said the next finance chair would have a challenging job.

“There may be less fiscal space than before because of higher debt-to-[gross domestic product] ratios,” he said.

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