Neophyte Senators get key committees in Senate

Marje Pelayo   •   July 23, 2019   •   789

The Senate of the Philippines released on Tuesday (July 23) its first batch of elected chairpersons for different committees this 18th Congress.

  1. Agriculture & Food – Sen. Cynthia Villar (retained)
  2. Blue Ribbon Committee – Sen. Richard Gordon (retained)
  3. Constitutional Amendments & Revision of Codes – Sen. Kiko Pangilinan (formerly chaired by Sen. Franklin Drilon)
  4. Economic Affairs – Sen. Imee Marcos (formerly chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian)
  5. Energy – Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (retained)
  6. Finance – Sen. Sonny Angara (formerly chaired by ex-Senator Loren Legarda)
  7. Foreign relations – Sen. Koko Pimentel (formerly chaired by now House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano)
  8. Games & Amusement – Sen. Lito Lapid (formerly chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson)
  9. Health & Demography – Sen. Bong Go (formerly chaired by ex-Sen. JV Ejercito)
  10. Labor, Employment & Human resources development – Sen. Joel Villanueva (retained)
  11. Local Government – Sen. Francis Tolentino (formerly chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara)
  12. National Defense & Security – Sen. Panfilo Lacson (formerly chaired by now DICT chief Gringo Honasan)
  13. Public Information & Mass Media – Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. (formerly chaired by Sen. Grace Poe)
  14. Public Order & Dangerous Drugs – Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa (formerly chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson)
  15. Public Services – Sen. Grace Poe (retained)
  16. Public Works – Sen. Manny Pacquiao (retained)
  17. Social Justice, Welfare & Rural Development – Sen. Leila De Lima (formerly chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar)
  18. Tourism – Sen. Nancy Binay (retained)
  19. Ways & Means- Sen. Pia Cayetano (formerly chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara)
  20. Women, Children, Family Relations & Gender Equality – Sen. Risa Hontiveros (retained)

Meanwhile, the Senate has yet to announce the chairpersons for the following key Senate Committees:

  1. Accounts
  2. Agrarian Reform
  3. Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies
  4. Civil Service and Government Reorganization
  5. Climate Change
  6. Cooperatives
  7. Cultural communities
  8. Education
  9. Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation
  10. Environment and Natural Resources
  11. Ethics and Privileges
  12. Government Corporations and Public Enterprises
  13. Justice and Human Rights
  14. Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation
  15. Rules
  16. Science and Technology
  17. Sports
  18. Trade and Commerce
  19. Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement
  20. Youth

Sotto reminds colleagues: Respect resource persons during Senate hearings

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2019

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines – Reelected Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Monday reminded his colleagues to respect the rights of the resource persons they invite in their inquiries, saying they are primarily legislators and not prosecutors.

“We are not prosecutors, we are not Judges, our hearings had been known to be precursors of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and even self-injury. It should not be the case,” Sotto said in his speech after he was reelected through viva voce.

“The constitution expressly provides that the rights of the invitees must be respected,” he added.

However, Sotto was quick to clarify that respecting the rights of resource persons does not mean they will be soft on those lying to them.

“I only mean that our inquiries should really be in aid of legislation, although I also believe that those who lie in our face must stay in our premises or Muntinlupa if they continue to do so. What I am only saying is that we are legislators, primarily,” he said.

Sotto retained his post as Senate President after he was after majority of senators voted for him at the start of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress on Monday.

READ: Sotto retains post as Senate President

Sotto said the Senate will continue to be cooperative but independent and transparent on issues.

The senate leader also outlined some of the priority bills they will deliberate on in the 18th Congress, including the proposal to amend the Human Security Act of 2007 which will be called the Anti-Terrorism Act, the proposed Public Services Act, and the proposed national budget.

Sotto, meanwhile, sees heated debates ahead for the proposed revival of the death penalty. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Sotto retains post as Senate President

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has retained his post as Senate President after a majority of senators voted for him at the start of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress on Monday.

During the opening of the session, lawmakers voted viva-voce to support his continuing leadership in the upper chamber of the Congress.

Viva-voce voting is done where lawmakers will shout aye for their bet.

Also reelected are Senator Ralph Recto as Senate President Pro-tempore, and Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri as Majority Floor Leader.

Minority Leader Franklin Drilon will also continue leading the opposition bloc.

Twenty-two senators were present during the opening of the session; absent were Senator Manny Pacquiao, who he is still in Las Vegas, Nevada after his boxing bout with Keith Thurman, and Senator Leila de Lima, who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.

After the voting, Sotto led the oath-taking of newly-elected Senators Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go, Ronald dela Rosa, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Lito Lapid, Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel, Francis Tolentino, Nancy Binay and Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla.

Capiz Rep. Castro eyeing House Minority leader post

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2019

Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro

MANILA, Philippines – Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro is considering seeking the Minority Leader post when the 18th Congress opens later this month.

In a statement, Castro said he is seriously studying suggestions by other congressmen for him to take the post “to maintain a credible balance of opinion on all issues” in the House of Representatives.

“I am seriously considering whether I could maintain my balance considering the hairline difference between being a minority member from an opposition. This is because, critical collaboration as distinguished from being destructive is called for,” he said.

Castro said he is open to suggestion and will wait for guidance before he responds to his fellow lawmakers’ call.

The Capiz representative served as Majority leader in the latter part of the 17th Congress, replacing Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr.

Castro’s statement comes after Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s suggestion for him to take the Majority Leader position instead following the latter’s endorsement of a term-sharing set-up between Congressmen Alan Peter Cayetano and Lord Allan Velasco as House speaker.

READ: Romualdez accepts House Majority Leader job

READ: Duterte: Cayetano, Velasco to share term as House Speaker

But Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate opposed Castro’s bid, saying the Minority Leader should come from the genuine opposition.

“Mahirap namang hawak na nga nila ang leadership ng Congress ay pati minority leadership ay kukunin pa nila,” Zarate said in a statement.

(It is not right for them to have the minority leadership when they already have the leadership in Congress.)

“If someone is to be the minority leader, he should at least be part of the true minority who opposes the anti-democratic and anti-people policies of the administration,” he added.

Zarate is the progressive Makabayan bloc’s candidate for House Speakership race. (with details from Grace Casin)

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