‘Game of chairs’: Winning senators share preferred Senate committee

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‘Game of chairs’: Winning senators share preferred Senate committee

MANILA, Philippines — More than a month before they take their oaths of office, some of the senators-elect have already mentioned which Senate committees they want to helm.

There will be 21 Senate committees that will need chairpersons once the Senate welcomes the 12 new senators on June 30.

On proclamation day, Sens. Grace Poe and Sonny Angara as well as senators-elect Imee Marcos and Bong Go shared what Senate panel they wanted to handle.

Poe said she wants to retain her chairmanship of the public services committee. All matters affecting public services and utilities, communications, transportation and grant or amendment of legislative franchises are under the jurisdiction of the panel.

Aside from the public services panel, Poe also chaired the public information and mass media committee during the 17th Congress.

Angara, the current ways and means committee chair, expressed his interest to lead the finance committee. He, however, said he is willing to head any panel that will be given to him by the majority.

Senate Rules states that “all matters relating to funds for the expenditures of the National Government and for the payment of public indebtedness; auditing of accounts and expenditures of the National Government; claims against the government; inter-governmental revenue sharing; and, in general, all matters relating to public expenditures” are under the jurisdiction of the finance panel.

Marcos, a neophyte senator, wants to have a hold over the social welfare committee. “Kung maaari gusto ko sana ‘yung social welfare, matignan ‘yung 4Ps, cash for work,” she said.

Under Rule 10, Section 13 of the Rules of the Senate, the committee on social justice, welfare and rural development has jurisdictions on matters relating to “rural development and welfare, and the implementation of the provisions of the Constitution on social justice.”

She would also like to have the chairmanships of trade and commerce or ways and means committees.

All matters relating to domestic and foreign trade and private corporations, among others fall under the trade and commerce panel, while matters on revenue, taxes and fees, tariffs fall under the ways and means panel.

Go, whose posters bearing his face and name were placed at Malasakit Centers, said is eyeing to lead the health committee.

Rules of the Senate states that all “matters relating to public health in general, medical, hospital and quarantine services; population issues, concerns, policies and programs affecting individuals and their families, their effects on national, social and economic conditions” are under the jurisdiction of the health panel.

On Tuesday, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said he wants the post to go to Dela Rosa. The two are graduates of the Philippine Military Academy and are former Philippine National Police chiefs.

“I actually offered to relinquish the chairmanship of the public order and dangerous drugs committee to Senator Dela Rosa,” Lacson was quoted in reports.

“I want him to immediately feel and experience how to balance the plight of those at the receiving end of the abuses and overzealousness of some police officers in the conduct of their operations with the side of law enforcement itself,” he added.

Dela Rosa, however said he does not want to demand any chairmanship since he is a newbie.

“Ayoko naman na kakapasok ko pa lang magdedemand na ako ng gusto ko. Kung ano ibigay sakin, kahit anong committee ba, kahit wala sa expertise ko pipilitin kong mag-aral at matutunan yung mga intricacies noong paghahandle ng ganoong klaseng committee

(I don’t want to demand anything that I like because I just got in. Whatever they will give to me—any committee, even if it’s not my expertise I will study and learn about the intricacies on how to handle those kind of committee.)