Members of the Liberal Party and coalition allies have been given the first crack at major committees in the Senate based on the initial list of committee chairmanships released by Sen. Vicente “Tito” C. Sotto III yesterday.
According to Sotto, whom Senate President Franklin M. Drilon announced would be the Senate Majority Leader in the 17th Congress, the first round of wrangling for committee assignments has started after they agreed to form a “super majority” coalition that would be headed by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Drilon, who would be the Senate President Pro Tempore, would be given the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies.
Sotto, as majority leader, will handle the Committee on Rules.
Sen. Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV would handle the Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture, while senator-elect Leila M. de Lima would get the Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Senator-elect Risa Hontiveros will get the Committee on Health while Senator-elect Joel Villanueva will chair the Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development.
Comebacking Sen. Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan would head the Committee on Agriculture. Another returning senator, Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson, would head the Committee on Public Order.
Senators Loren Legarda will lead the Committee on Finance; Nancy Binay, Tourism committee; Senator-elect Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian, Committee on Local Government; Gregorio “Gringo” B. Honasan II, Committee on Defense;
Sen. Grace Poe, Committee on Public Services and may also retain the chairmanship of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media; and Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara will maintain chairmanship of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
According to Sotto, Drilon is ready to give up chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Banks if Sen. Ralph Recto decides to join the majority.
Recto, a member of the Liberal Party, has said that he has not yet decided whether or not to join the super majority, saying he is still studying his options, including joining the Senate Minority Bloc.
Sources said Recto is eyeing chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee but the panel has allegedly been promised to Legarda.
Pimentel had earlier disclosed they are offering chairmanship of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, his rival in the Senate presidency race.
Sotto said they are ready to give chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Energy to Sen. Francis Escudero if he decides to join the majority bloc.
But Escudero and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV have said they are considering being part of the minority bloc.
(Hannah L. Torregoza)