Filipino world boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, the top absentee in the House of Representatives, wants to be chairman of at least one committee.
Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, who is the secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said Pacquiao made the request after Tiangco announced that nine of the 11 UNA members in the House will join the majority bloc.
Joining the bloc are Representatives-elect Abigail Binay and Monique Lagdameo of Makati, Marisol Aragones of Laguna, Gwen Garcia of Cebu, Jun Biron of Iloilo, Gus Tambunting of Parañaque City, Nicasio Aliping of Baguio City, Wilbert Lee of Agriparty-list and Silvestre Bello 3rd of 1 Banat & Ahapo Party-List (1-BAP) Coalition party-list.
Tiangco won’t join either the majority or minority bloc, while fellow UNA member Pacquiao would only join the majority if he will be named chairperson of either the Committee on Aquacultrue and Fisheries Resources or the House Overseas Workers Affairs panel.
“Congressman Pacquiao has requested the chairmanship of any these [two]committees, but I was told that he can only be granted a vice chairmanship post. I relayed the message to him and he is yet to respond,” Tiangco said in a phone interview.
House Deputy Majority Leader Romero Quimbo of Marikina isn’t surprised that UNA is aligning with the majority bloc even if the party had marketed itself as the opposition in the 2013 elections.
“It is not surprising because senatorial elections are different from the House and they have said before that they will be supportive of the President. It is part of the dynamics here. We in the majority coalition would welcome anything that would ease and speed up the passage of vital bills,” Quimbo said in an interview.
Tiangco said UNA’s move to join the majority bloc despite going against the administration bets in the last elections is not unique, considering that other political parties such as the Nationalist People’s Coalition and the Nacionalista party also fielded candidates against the bets of the ruling Liberal Party during the May polls.
Interestingly, one of UNA’s members, 1-BAP Congressman Bello, served as the Justice secretary during the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo and ran for the Senate during the 2010 polls under Mrs. Arroyo’s political party, Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino. Bello lost.
Tiangco, a staunch critic of Mrs. Arroyo, stood by UNA’s decision to welcome Bello into the fold.
“I don’t see him as a baggage because he does not represent GMA in Congress. He represents the cause of his party, and his nomination was determined by the members of the party-list,” he said.
LLANESCA T. PANTI