Senate committee chairmanships distributed; Miriam gets nothing

August 3, 2010 11:03 am 

MANILA, Aug. 2 -– The Senate finally approved on Monday the committee chairmanships without any objection on the floor as feisty senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has to leave early due to her health problem.

The announcement of the committee chairmanships has been made after a closed-door caucus where Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile made the distribution of the chairmanship to the senators.

Comebacking senator Serge Osmena III got the chairmanships of the committees energy; banks, financial institutions and currencies; and, joint committee on power corporation while Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada got only one on committee labor, employment and human resource development.

Another comebacking senator Franklin Drilon took the finance committee while fellow Liberal Party senator Francis Pangilinan has been given the agriculture and social justice committees and another LP senator Ralph Recto got the committees on ways and means and government corporations and public enterprises.

The committee on public services which was initially being targeted by Recto has been given anew to reelected senator Bong Revilla who also kept the public works committee.

Senator Gringo Honasan also retained the public order and illegal drugs and got public information and mass media while senator Chiz Escudero also kept the justice and human rights committee and got a new chairmanship of the committee on national defense and security.

Neophyte senator Teofisto Guingona, another administration senator, got the powerful blue ribbon committee while another newcomer senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. has been entrusted with two committees – local government and urban planning, housing and resettlement.

Re-elected senator Lito Lapid retained games and amusement and sports and got tourism committee while Edgardo Angara got education, arts and culture; and, science and technology committees.

Senator Loren Legarda also kept the climate change committee and got the foreign relations committee which was formerly handled by Santiago while former Senate majority floor leader Juan Miguel Zubiri got the environment and natural resources and cooperatives committees.

Senator Manny Villar, who lost in the last presidential elections, is new chairman of both the economic affairs and trade and commerce committees.

Enrile assigned the accounts committee to fugitive senator Panfilo Lacson while the civil service and government reorganization has been given to detained senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Senator Pia Cayetano was the only member of minority bloc who got not one but three committees – health and demography; youth, women and family relations; and, ethics.

Minority senator Joker Arroyo has already expressed his intention not to get any committee while Santiago, despite expressing her preference to get the blue ribbon, has not been given any committee.

”I could not assign to her any committees because she was not present,” Enrile said in defense to queries why did not give the lady senator any committee chairmanship.

”I distributed the committees. I was the one who assumed the responsibility of distributing the committees and I left it to them to do whatever they want. As far as I am concerned, I leave it to my peers to decide about my position as Senate president. After all, they have the votes,” the Senate president added, seemingly reacting to the statement of Santiago that his leadership is ‘fragile.’

Santiago attended the opening of the session despite not feeling well due to chronic fatigue which she said could be related to a hereditary heart condition. She did not attend the caucus.

Enrile said Santiago will join the minority bloc headed by senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

Angara said he was surprised the Enrile did not give Santiago any committee, adding “it should not happened.”

Remain unfilled are the committees on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws as well as committee on agrarian reform.

Senate majority floor leader Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III said the members of the different committees will be announced on Tuesday. (PNA) LOR/jfm


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