No committees for Enrile-led minority?

Sen Nancy Binay says the 6-person Senate minority is considering refusing committee chairmanships as a group

'OKAY WITH ME.' Sen Nancy Binay says she is willing to forego any committee chairmanship to fulfill the Senate minority's role of checking on the performance and bills of the majority. Photo by Rappler/Ayee Macaraig

MANILA, Philippines – Will the incoming Senate minority take the cue from Sen Vicente Sotto III and refuse any committee chairmanships?

Sen Nancy Binay, one of the 6 members of the new minority, said the group was considering the idea.

In an interview on Wednesday evening, July 17, Binay said the scenario was raised after Sotto made a stand that he will not lead any committee in the 16th Congress.

Sotto has said that he prefers not to head any panel so he can look into the work of all committees. Sotto was Majority Leader during the 15th Congress.

Binay said the minority is thinking about following Sotto’s lead to fulfill its traditional role as a group that will ensure checks and balances. Binay said the idea was part of the group’s plan to be a “solid bloc” and come up with “collective decisions.” 

“It’s so we can concentrate on the other committees. As members of committees, actually we will have more work because there are just 6 of us and there are many committees we have to focus on, hearings we have to attend, and proposals we have to study.”

Besides Binay and Sotto, the minority will be composed of Sen Jinggoy Estrada, Sen Gregorio Honasan II, Sen JV Ejercito, and resigned Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who will vie for the post of Minority Leader.

Binay said the group will meet this week to decide whether or not to adopt the idea. She said it is also possible that the whole minority or some of its members will end up having committee chairmanships. 

As for her, Binay is willing to forego any committee chairmanship.

“The role of the minority is to check and double check what will benefit our countrymen, the bills that the majority will pass.”

She added: “It’s not a boycott. If you think about it, the minority isn’t supposed to get a committee by tradition. [Former] Sen Joker Arroyo did not have a committee chairmanship.”

Binay said Enrile left it up to the group to decide.

Despite Binay’s statement, Estrada has said that he is interested in retaining his chairmanship of the Committee on Labor. He also said he planned to talk to likely Senate President Franklin Drilon about possible committee chairmanships for the minority.

Asked about the idea to follow Sotto’s example, Honasan told Rappler in a text message, “No decision yet from the minority bloc.”

In the 15th Congress, the minority was not perceived to be critical of the majority, with most senators initially backing Enrile’s leadership and supportive of the Aquino administration. 

Now, the new minority has vowed to play a more active role in assessing the performance and bills of the Senate majority composed of the administration coalition led by the ruling Liberal Party.

“We expect the new majority to perform well and toe the line because we will definitely call their attention if there are things that are being mishandled or if there is no quorum or there are procedures that are not followed,” Sotto said in a previous interview.

Binay and Estrada have also said they plan to scrutinize the budget of administration projects like the conditional cash transfer program to ensure it is not misused or politicized.

The minority mostly composed of members of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance said they plan to be a “constructive opposition” in the Senate.

The Senate will vote on its leadership and finalize committee chairmanships when the 16th Congress opens on July 22. – Rappler.com

 

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