MANILA - Senators-elect Pia Cayetano, Francis Tolentino and Imee Marcos are being eyed to lead the Senate ways and means committee, a panel "not popular" among those who may seek reelection, Sen. Joel Villanueva revealed Thursday.
The panel is set to handle deliberations on 3 remaining packages of the tax reform law, which the government said was "unfairly blamed" for rising consumer prices last year after it raised duties on fuel, cars, tobacco and sugar sweetened drinks.
It was last led by reelected Sen. Sonny Angara.
"We are talking about it (Senate ways and means committee) and no one seems to be interested perhaps because of the several packages on the line. It's not popular also for a reelectionist," Villanueva told ANC.
"I still have no idea who's gonna chair it, but last night, they were talking about 2 or 3 names -- Sen. Pia, Sen. Francis and Imee," he added.
Marcos last week said she might not be a "good choice" for the post because of her "knee-jerk" reaction to raising taxes. The outgoing governor of Ilocos Norte campaigned on a platform of lowering taxes and fighting inflation.
Marcos, whose family is accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth during the regime of her father late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, is facing graft charges after the House of Representatives recommended in July 2018 that she be held accountable for alleged misuse of Ilocos Norte's tobacco excise taxes.
The chairmanship of some committees is being coveted by several senators, including newcomers, even while these are chaired by incumbent colleagues, Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier said.
Asked to describe neophytes contending for these panels, Villanueva said: "I would say aggressive... when they started talking about it in the media."
"In our time, I could hardly remember anyone talking about someone interested [in a committee]. As a neophyte, I think it's but natural to observe, look around, see what you can do," he said.
"We shared this with incoming senators last night, that it's up to you to make the most out of a committee and we are here to help."
Senators poised to make up the majority bloc gathered Wednesday at the house of Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
"It's just a welcome dinner for newbies, newly elected senators. We also wanted to have this light fellowship with the incoming senators," Villanueva said of the event.