MANILA, Philippines - With the Speakership of Quezon City 4th District Rep. Feliciano Belmonte nearly a done deal, the new majority of the House of Representatives is now distributing the chairmanships of 57 standing committees to senior members of different political parties.
Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, an ally of President Aquino, said the Liberal Party will hold onto key chairmanships in the Lower Chamber while distributing the rest to the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People's Coalition and a 42-man bloc of the Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats.
He said that as majority leader, he will take over the chairmanship of the House committee on rules. On the other hand, Cavite Rep. and fellow LP member Emilio Jun Abaya will head the powerful appropriations committee.
He said 2 other committees - the ways and means and contingent to the Commission on Appointments -- will also be led by LP members though no one has been nominated for these posts.
The rules committee takes care of the calendaring of bills for deliberation, while the appropriations panel handles the deliberations for the annual national budget bill.
The ways and means committee deals with the imposition and rationalization of tax measures. All 3 committees are crucial to the passage of any President’s legislative agenda.
The head of the Contingent to the bicameral Commission on Appointments is crucial because the CA confirms the appointments of presidential appointees.
Gonzales said the Nacionalist Party will get 5 committee chairmanships, while the NPC will get 8. A bloc of the Lakas-Kampi CMD will get 10 even as the rest of the Lakas congressmen will form the new minority in the Lower House.
Minority members do not get any committee chairmanships except slots to the rules committee and the CA. Being a member of the rules committee is of the same rank as a chairman of a standing committee.
The new leaders of the House are expected to firm up the final committee chairmanships next Monday.
Gonzales said former president and now Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is unlikely to get a committee chairmanship. He said Arroyo maybe nominated by the minority to the rules committee.
He also revealed the abolition of the House Oversight Committee, led by Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez in the 14th Congress. Gonzales said the committee duplicates the oversight functions of the other committees.
Gonzales said the committee chairmanships were not discussed in the ongoing LP fellowship and orientation day in Tagaytay City, but were discussed on the sidelines of the event.
Unlike previous Congresses, the House in the 15th Congress hopes to firm up committee chairmanships in the first 2 weeks of session, if not the first week. A committee usually needs a month to set up before conducting business after its chair and members have been picked.
On the other hand, the new minority, likely to be led by incoming minority leader Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, held its own fellowship gathering at the house of Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez in Makati City last night.
Suarez, with whom Lagman will share the term of minority leader after 18 months, said they will have some 40 members who are hardline members of the Lakas-Kampi CMD. This is in addition to some 10 to 15 part-list representatives who are also expected to side with the minority.
Suarez said Arroyo joined them in the fellowship dinner last night where they discussed their plans as the new minority in the 15th Congress.