MANILA, Philippines – In the 19th Congress, seniority does not seem to require years of experience in the lower chamber – at least if you look at the election of the new Senior Deputy Majority Leader.
Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos was announced as the Senior Deputy Majority Leader during the regular session on Tuesday, July 26, a day after Congress welcomed his father, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., to deliver his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).
On July 25, too, the House elected as its Speaker Leyte 1st District Martin Romualdez, President Marcos’ first cousin and Representative Marcos’ uncle.
Representative Marcos, 28, is a first-time member of the House. He occupies a post that was previously held by former Cavite Representative Crispin Remulla, a lawyer and long-time legislator. Remulla is now President Marcos’ justice secretary.
At the time Remulla was Senior Deputy Majority Leader, the young Marcos was a member of his uncle Romualdez’s legislative staff. Representative Marcos spent most of his student life in the United Kingdom, earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees there.
As Senior Deputy House Leader, Representative Marcos is also vice chairman of the powerful rules committee, which will determine the 19th Congress’ House Rules, as well as the procedures in inquiries in aid of legislation, impeachments, the daily order of business, referral of bills, resolutions, speeches, committee reports, as well as the creation of committees themselves.
House leaders – from the Speaker, Majority Leader, Minority Leader, and their deputies – have “voice and vote in all committees” of the House, at least according to the House Rules under the previous Congress. They may also deputize members of the House to participate in other committees on their behalf.
Another Marcos relative was also given a plum post in the 19th Congress. Tingog Representative Yedda Romualdez, wife of Speaker Romualdez, is again head of the committee on accounts. Representative Romualdez held the same post in the tail end of the 17th Congress under the term of then-speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now Senior Deputy Speaker to Speaker Romualdez.
The accounts committee deals with the internal budget of the House. Its chairperson, like other House leaders, also has a “voice and vote in all committees,” according to the 18th Congress’ rules.
The 19th Congress, having been freshly-opened, has thus far adopted the previous Congress’ rules.
It was during Representative Yedda Romualdez’s birthday in Cebu City that President Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte made their first public appearance together ahead of announcing their 2022 tandem.
Representative Marcos is the eldest son of the President and helped him in the 2022 campaign, even as he mounted his own campaign in Ilocos Norte. Speaker Romualdez, Representative Marcos, and President Marcos are all namesakes of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, the first Marcos president.
Lawmakers tied to the Romualdez clan also clinched plum posts in the chamber. TUCP Representative Raymund Democrito Mendoza was named as one of the House deputy speakers. Representative Mendoza’s late father, Cebuano trade union leader Democrito Mendoza, is the youngest brother of the mother of Yedda, whose full name is Yedda Marie Mendoza Kittilsvedt-Romualdez.
Representative Mendoza’s stepdaughter, neophyte lawmaker Alana Samantha Santos of North Cotabato’s 3rd District, was also named assistant majority leader. Santos is the daughter of Cotabato Governor Emmylou “Lala” Taliño-Mendoza, wife of the TUCP congressman. – Rappler.com
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