Escudero for finance, Pia gets education
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate announced changes in committee chairmanships on Wednesday, July 24, with Sen Francis Escudero now heading the powerful finance committee and Sen Pia Cayetano leading the education panel.
Escudero was initially named education committee chairman on Tuesday, but a day later, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano announced that Escudero will now lead the finance committee.
The finance panel is one of the key Senate committees because it scrutinizes the national budget. Senate President Franklin Drilon headed the committee in the 15th Congress.
Sen Pia Cayetano is now head of the education committee, which was initially eyed by Escudero, and senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara.
Liberal Party (LP) member Sen Teofisto “TG” Guingona III retains his chairmanship of a powerful committee which he headed in the 15th Congress – the blue ribbon committee, which investigates irregularities in government.
As in the first batch of chairmanships, the majority got first dibs on the major Senate committees. No committee chairmanship has been announced for the minority so far.
There are 39 regular committees and most of the chairmanships have already been announced.
Here is the list of committee chairmanships including the second batch that Sen Alan Cayetano read into the Senate records:
- Finance – Sen Francis Escudero
- Education, Arts, and Culture – Sen Pia Cayetano
- Cooperatives – Sen Lito Lapid (as in 15th Congress)
- Ways and Means – Sen Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara
- Games and Amusement – Sen Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara
- Local Government – Sen Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr (as in 15th Congress)
- Public Works – Sen Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr
- Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation – Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III (as in 15th Congress)
- Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon) – Sen Teofisto “TG” Guingona III (as in 15th Congress)
- Peace, Unification and Reconciliation – Sen Teofisto “TG” Guingona III
- Government Corporations and Public Enterprises – Sen Antonio Trillanes IV
- Environment and Natural Resources – Sen Loren Legarda
- Climate Change – Sen Loren Legarda (as in 15th Congress)
- Cultural Communities – Sen Loren Legarda (as in 15th Congress)
- Tourism – Sen Lito Lapid (as in 15th Congress)
- Agriculture and Food – Sen Cynthia Villar
- National Defense and Security – Sen Antonio Trillanes IV
- Trade and Commerce – Sen Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV
- Public Order and Dangerous Drugs – Sen Grace Poe
- Public Information and Mass Media – Sen Grace Poe
- Public Services – Sen Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr (as in 15th Congress)
- Justice and Human Rights – Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
Escudero is an independent senator but ran under the administration slate Team PNoy in May. Sen Pia Cayetano is a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP), which allied with the LP in the midterm polls. The LP and the NP were rivals in 2010.
An Aquino ally, Escudero is a two-term senator who headed the committees on environment and justice in the 15th Congress.
His counterpart in the House of Representatives is Davao City 3rd District Rep Isidro Ungab, chairman of the appropriations committee.
Heads of committees lead the hearings of their panels and oversee bills and resolutions referred to them. They also sponsor measures coming out of their committees.
Committee chairmanships are not voted upon but are negotiated among the members of the majority. The Senate President leads the talks and has discretion over the selection.
No other committee for Chiz?
In an interview after the session, Alan Cayetano explained that the changes also resulted from discussions of the majority group.
“Because there was no decision yet on who will be the chairperson of the committee on finance, and since it’s one of the biggest committees or one with the largest jurisdiction, traditionally the chairman of the committee on finance would not have any other committee.”
“So Senator Escudero graciously gave up the chairmanship of the committee on education because he took over the committee on finance,” he added.
Cayetano said in a caucus last week, the majority already agreed that there will be changes resulting from the choice of the finance committee head.
“For example, Senator Pia was going to handle the committee on health, but it was passed on to Senator Guingona, and Senator Pia got education, so it’s a chain reaction.”
Sen Pia Cayetano headed the health committee in the 15th Congress.
Sen Alan Cayetano said the majority was thinking about the head of the finance panel for two weeks and waited until after the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Aquino before deciding.
Will minority accept ‘leftovers’?
Cayetano said there will still be consultation on the committee chairmanships for the members of the minority led by Sen Juan Ponce Enrile.
“There will be some committees offered. It will be up to them to accept. The Senate President is the one to make the offer.”
Sen Jinggoy Estrada of the minority said, by his count, only the chairmanships of 6 committee are up for grabs: labor, which he headed in the 15th Congress, civil service, economic affairs, social welfare, urban planning, and ethics.
Estrada said it is still uncertain whether his group will accept any committee chairmanships.
“I think we are going to accept committees as long as it is a major committee, but if it’s just minor-minor, I think we will still have to discuss it among ourselves.”
He added, “Traditionally, the minority cannot demand their preferred committees, so we will have to wait until after they talk.” – Rappler.com