A stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) will be named to head of the Commission on Appointments (CA) right after President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, it was learned Thursday.
An old hand in the House of Representatives, who refused to be named because he is not authorized to speak on the matter, said LP Secretary General and Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento will chair the 12-strong House contingent in the CA, which confirms, rejects or bypasses presidential appointees.
The source said Sarmiento was initially picked to head the House Committee on Appropriations but the chairmanship of that panel went to Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab because of Ungab’s crucial role in shepherding the passage of the sin tax measure into law last year as the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means.
The Ways and Means panel will have a new chairman, Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, a lawyer prior to embarking on a political career and has served as House Deputy Majority Leader during the 15th Congress.
Both Ungab and Quimbo are members of the LP.
Other Liberals assured of positions in the 16th Congress include: Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of Quezon City as Speaker, Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong (House Majority Leader), Henedina Abad of Batanes (Deputy Speaker), Sergio Apostol of Leyte (Deputy Speaker) and Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur (Deputy Speaker).
LP’s coalition partners will also get choice posts. Nacionalista Party’s (NP) Carlos Padilla of Nueva Vizcaya will be one of the Deputy Speakers alongside Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao of the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
Another Nacionalista, Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus “Budoy” Madrona, will be named chairman of the Committee on Accounts. Madrona first served as the head of the Appropriations panel during the short-lived Estrada administration from 1998 to 2001.
But Gonzales, who was House Majority Leader in the 15th Congress, said Belmonte’s Speakership is the only thing cast in stone so far.
But he confirmed the claims of the Manila Times source that the lawmakers who will get key posts will be known right after the SONA.
“The chairmen of some key positions will be named out of necessity like Appropriations [panel]because we will receive the proposed national budget for 2014 a day after electing the Speaker and hearing the President’s SONA. We will also elect the chairman of the Accounts [panel]because that position is critical to the operations of the institution. The Deputy Speakers will also be elected on Monday,” Gonzales said.
LLANESCA T. PANTI