By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
After haggling and meeting over their choices, senators have formally elected the chairmen of the committees in the Upper Chamber.
The Senate elected leaders of 20 committees a day after the opening of the 18th Congress’ first regular session.
And as earlier committed, neophyte senators got their preferred committees in the chamber. Former police chief and Senator Ronald dela Rosa was elected as the new chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, which tackles measures on peace and order, and may lead legislative inquiries on the administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
Sen. Christopher Go, who during his stint as the President Duterte’s righthand-man launched the “Malasakit Centers”, was elected as Senate Committee on Health and Demography.
Sen. Imee Marcos, meanwhile, got the Committee on Economic Affairs; while Sen. Francis Tolentino got the Committee on Local Government.
Returning Senate members were also elected to lead their respective committees: Sen. Pia Cayetano for Committee on Ways and Means; Sen. Lito Lapid for Committee on Games and Amusement; and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. for the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media.
Reelected and incumbent senators were also elected to new posts that were vacated by their colleagues who graduated in the previous Congress. Sen. Sonny Angara is now the chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, which handles the annual national budget.
Handling the Senate Committee on National Defense is now Sen. Panfilo Lacson; while the Foreign Affairs panel chairman is now Sen. Koko Pimentel.
Other senators, meanwhile, have retained their chairmanships of the committees they held in the 17th Congress:
Sen. Nancy Binay – Committee on Tourism
Sen. Leila de Lima – Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian – Committee on Energy
Sen. Richard Gordon – Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon)
Sen. Risa Hontiveros – Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality
Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao – Committee on Public Works
Sen. Kiko Pangilinan – Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes
Sen. Grace Poe – Committee on Public Services
Sen. Joel Villanueva – Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development
Sen. Cynthia Villar – Committee on Agriculture and Food
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri was elected as concurrent chair of the Committee on Rules.
The Upper Chamber is expected to elect the chairmen of the 19 other committees on Wednesday, July 24.
It was earlier reported, however, that the Committee of Education will be split into two; and a committee on sustainable development goals will be created. These would raise the number of Senate committees to 42.