Belmonte's speakership in 15th Congress in the bag

July 9, 2010 9:41 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, July 9 — With majority of the members of the House of Representatives expressing support for his bid, come-backing Quezon City Rep. Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. is assured of bagging the House Speakership of the 15th Congress which will formally open on July 26.

This as more than 145 lawmakers from different political parties have already expressed support for Belmonte's speakership bid.

"I think I have 145 sure votes, and still counting. The Liberal Party (LP) is helping me a lot," the former Quezon City mayor said.

At least 140 votes are needed to win as Speaker.

Belmonte also said that former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has no objection for his becoming the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

He said that the former president even expressed willingness to work with members of the House majority of the present administration.

Mrs. Arroyo, in a meeting held last Tuesday at the residence of Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez with members of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, issued a marching order to her partymates to cooperate with the present administration.

Belmonte said that the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, which is now considered to become the House minority as more than half of its members have now allied with the LP, would play a crucial role in the proceedings of the Lower Chamber by helping improve the legislation that comes out of it.

He noted that even when the members of Lakas dwindled during the presidency of Joseph Estrada, its members in the House of Representatives still play a key role in the proceedings.

"I expect the minority will contribute significantly to the progress of legislation in the House," the Quezon City lawmaker said.

Belmonte also said that though he would be on opposing sides with his former partymates — the Lakas-Kampi — he does not expect turbulence in the 15th Congress.

"I look forward to having not a turbulent but a good working relationship with them based on the fact that we all want to serve our country," he said.

Belmonte also expects that the former president's presence in Congress will have a good effect — to get more lawmakers attend sessions.

"I’m hopeful the presence of GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) on the floor will entice a lot of people to come and be counted in the roll call," he said.

Meanwhile, Belmonte also vowed "transparency" in the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), more popularly called as the "pork barrel" fund of congressmen.

"We are allocating for more openness in how it (PDAF) is used and as what President Noy (Benigno Simeon 'Noynoy' Aquino III) said, this is something that he had mentioned privately to me, at least he would like to have a tight menu where the money would go," he said, even as he maintained that the President is against any move to cut the pork barrel of lawmakers.

Belmonte said the allowed projects to be funded by the PDAF would include education, health and infrastructure.

"As long as there is openness here, because that is what it’s all about, it’s not depriving anybody of anything, I think we are promoting a culture of openness in the government," he said. (PNA)



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