9 UNA members to join House majority
MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – Nine out of 11 members of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in the House of Representatives are set to join the majority bloc, the coalition's secretary-general said Wednesday, June 26.
Navotas Rep Toby Tiangco's revelation came 3 weeks before the start of the 16th Congress, as lobbying for committee chairmanships and memberships heated up.
Tiangco will not be joining his coalition mates. "I will be independent," he said. Another UNA solon has yet to decide: Sarangani Rep Manny Pacquiao. (Update: Pacquiao has confirmed he is joining the majority bloc.)
Tiangco said Pacquiao, who is on his second term as congressman, wanted to head the committee on aquaculture and fisheries resources. But the House leadership turned him down. The ruling coalition instead offered him to be vice chairman of two committees – aquaculture and fisheries resources and overseas workers affairs, according to Tiangco.
Will Pacquiao still join the majority? Tiangco said the boxing icon hasn't said anything to him.
In a separate interview, Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr admitted he could not accommodate all requests for chairmanships.
"We are about 290 members. We have about 60-70 committees," he said. "Naturally, not everybody can be accommodated as a chairman, but definitely we will try to choose the people on the basis of their own experience, inclinations of their particular chairmanships, plus their seniority in the body."
Belmonte said they are talking to other parties regarding the chairmanship and membership of committees.
Based on their certificates of candidacies, 8 UNA candidates won in the May elections. Tiangco said 3 other House members joined the party afterwards: 1-Bap party list Rep Silvestro "Bebot" Bello III, AAMBIS-OWA party-list Rep Sharon Garin, and Baguio City Rep Nicasio Aliping Jr, who ran as an independent.
The list also includes Cebu 3rd district Rep Gwendolyn Garcia, who was unable to finish her last term as governor after the President suspended her in December.
The other UNA members in the House are: Makati City representatives Monique Lagdameo and Mar-len Abigail Binay, Parañaque City 2nd district Rep Gus Tambunting, Laguna 3rd district Rep Sol Aragones, and Iloilo 4th district Rep Jun Biron.
In the recent elections, UNA branded itself as "constructive opposition." Is it still opposition now given these developments?
Tiangco said: "We should not be bugging ourselves anymore [on] whether we are in the opposition or the administration. The elections are over. We should be thinking about what's best for our country." – Rappler.com