MANILA, Philippines - Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and several other members of the independent bloc in the House of Representatives will be given memberships in certain committees eight months after the 16th Congress opened.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. had recommended that Arroyo and some in the independent bloc headed by Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez be given committee membership despite her continued detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
The Pampanga lawmaker is expected to be assigned member of the committees on energy, and on trade and industry.
The new memberships are expected to be read in plenary next week.
Membership allows a lawmaker to vote on matters pending in the committee.
Lawmakers may attend and participate in committee hearings but one may not vote if he or she is not a member.
Technically, members of the independent bloc are not entitled to any committee membership as House rules allow only members of the majority and the minority to be part of legislative panels.
Members of Romualdez’s nine-member independent alliance do not belong to either the administration or the minority as it was formed after the lawmaker lost his bid for the speakership to Belmonte in July last year.
San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who also challenged Belmonte and got the next highest votes, automatically became minority leader.
The latest assignments left Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco as the only lawmaker without a committee membership.
Belmonte sought his opinion prior to giving committee memberships to the independents, Zamora said.
Other members of the independent bloc to get committee memberships were Representatives Diosdado Arroyo of Camarines Sur, committees on agriculture and food, dangerous drugs, and Bicol recovery and economic development; Lani Mercado-Revilla of Cavite, committees on aquaculture and fisheries resources, welfare of children and veterans affairs; Aleta Suarez of Quezon province, committees on appropriations, health, Southern Tagalog development; Philip Pichay of Surigao del Norte, committees on transportation, on ways and means, on banks and financial intermediaries, and on civil service and professional regulation; Victor Ortega of La Union, committees on agriculture and food, appropriations, higher and technical education, and on inter-parliamentary relations and diplomacy; Jonathan de la Cruz of Abakada, committees on basic education and culture, civil service and professional regulation, globalization and WTO, and on science and technology; and Lito Atienza of Buhay, committees on ecology, on Metro Manila development, and on natural resources.