Senate majority get choice committees

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SENATORS who gave their commitment to join the “super majority” in the Senate were among the first to get the committee chairmanship of their choice ahead of the opening of the 17th congress next month.

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Senator Vicente Sotto 3rd bared the partial list of Senators and their respective committees a day after Senate President Franklin Drilon announced the formation of the senate majority bloc that picked Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd as the next senate president.

Sotto, who will be the senate majority leader, will automatically chair the Senate committee on Rules which handles all matters affecting the rules of the Senate, the calendar, as well as parliamentary rules and the order and manner of transacting business and the creation of committees.

Drilon, who will be the senate president pro-tempore, will get the committee on Banks, the committee of outgoing senator Sergio Osmena 3rd.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan will be leading the Senate committee on National Defense and Security, which deals with matters relating to national defense and external and internal threats to national security; the military; pension plans and fringe benefits of war veterans and military retirees; citizens army selective service and civil defense among others.

Sen. Loren Legarda will have the committee on Finance, one of the most important committees in the Senate that deals with funds for the expenditures of the National Government and for the payment of public indebtedness; auditing of accounts and expenditures of the National Government.

Sen. Grace Poe will be leading the Public Services committee that handles matters affecting public services and utilities; communications; land, air, river and sea transportation including railroads and the grant or amendment of legislative franchises.

Poe, who ran for president but lost to Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte, may also get the senate committee on Public Information and Mass Media.

The senate committee on Education will go to Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, while the committee on Heath will be given to neophyte Sen. Risa Honteveros.

Returning Sen. Panfilo Lacson will have the committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs which was held by Poe in the 16th congress, while newbie Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian will handle the Local Government committee.

Other senators on Sotto’s list include Sens. Manny Pacquiao, committee on Public Works; Nancy Binay, committee on Tourism; Juan Edgardo Angara, committee on Ways and Means; Francis Pangilinan, committee on Agriculture; Leila de Lima, committee on Justice; and Joel Villanueva, committee on Labor Employment and Human Resources Development.

Fifteen of the 36 existing senate committees have been assigned to the members of the supermajority, and the remaining committees like the committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon) has yet to be assigned.

Meanwhile Sen. Ralph Recto, of the Liberal Party (LP) on Thursday made it clear that he is not part of the “super majority” contrary to the earlier claims of Drilon that all LP members in the Senate have agreed to support Pimentel as the next senate president.

Recto, the current senate president pro-tempore, said he has a month to study his options, including being part of the minority.

Aside from Recto, Sens. Joseph Victor Ejercito, Richard Gordon, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Cynthia Villar and Alan Peter Cayetano have yet to choose between the majority and minority.

Meanwhile, Sens. Francis Escudero and Antonio Trillanes 4th already announced that they will be joining the senate minority.

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