House cuts number of deputy speakers from more than 30 to 9
MANILA, Philippines — It seems congressmen are beginning to realize that too many chefs spoil the national soup.
This emerged as the House of Representatives, under Speaker Martin Romualdez, elected on Wednesday only nine deputy speakers, a far cry from the more than 30 deputy speakers elected in the 18th Congress.
Congressmen elected former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now representative of Pampanga, as senior deputy speaker. The 75-year-old former leader, who was recently stricken with COVID-19, herself served as speaker from 2018-2019.
The other deputy speakers of the 19th Congress are Batangas Rep. Ralph Recto, Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan, Las Piñas City Rep. Camille Villar, Cebu Rep. Vincent Franco Frasco, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Davao City Rep Isidro Ungab, Antipolo City Rep. Roberto Puno, and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza.
Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe was named majority leader while Rep. Marcelino Libanan of the Patibayin at Palaguin ang Pangkabuhayang Pilipino party list, was elected leader of the 25-member House minority bloc.
Elected as Dalipe’s deputies were Malabon Rep. Josephine Lacson-Noel, Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, Batangas Rep. Lianda Bolilia, Quezon City Rep. Franz Pumaren and Tingog party list Rep. Jude Acidre.
But eyebrows were raised at the election of neophyte Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos — the son of President Marcos and nephew of the Speaker — as senior deputy majority leader.
The younger Marcos’ designation raised the hackles of Kabataan Rep. Raoul Daniel Manuel who said Marcos only got a senior position in the lower chamber because of his familial ties with the president and the speaker.
But two administration congressmen were quick to school Manuel, who is also a rookie lawmaker, in House realpolitik.
“It’s better [precisely] because he’s the son of the president,” said veteran lawmaker Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee.
“You no longer have to pass through the executive secretary, you don’t have to filter the messaging. Whatever the House’s problems are, it will immediately reach the president. So the legislative mill will run faster,” Salceda said on Wednesday in a forum.
PBA Rep. Margarita Nograles, also a rookie legislator, said the younger Marcos was qualified to serve as senior majority leader because the president’s son worked for two years as legislative staff of his uncle [Romualdez].
“Representative Marcos was elected, overwhelmingly and unanimously, by the majority as their senior deputy majority leader. It is clear that the majority has spoken and has full faith, trust and confidence [in Marcos],” Nograles said.
She said Manuel could not claim that a neophyte “cannot do a good job in a position that Marcos is indeed qualified for.”
“I hope Representative Manuel, as part of the minority bloc, will respect our choice in the majority as we respect their decision-making processes as well,” Nograles added.
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