By Ellson Quismorio
The “15-21” term-sharing agreement on the speakership has not been a hindrance to the composition of committees in the House of Representatives.
Majority Floor Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez stressed this in a press conference Tuesday amid the perceived “slowness” of House reorganization efforts in the 18th Congress.
“Perhaps that is a factor pero hindi naman siguro handlang ang term-sharing sa pag-constitute ng chairmanships. Sa totoo lang po, madaling kausap ang mga congressman (I don’t think term-sharing has been a hindrance to the constitution of chairmanships. In truth, the congressmen are very easy to talk to),” Romualdez said.
“Maganda naman ang kasunduan namin sa term-sharing (We have a good agreement regarding term-sharing),” added the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) president.
Proposed by President Duterte, the 15-21 scheme divides the three-year duration of the current 18th Congress between Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Nacionalista Party’s (NP) Cayetano, Duterte’s former running mate, will serve as House speaker for the first 15 months, while Velasco, Duterte’s party-mate over at Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) will assume the post in the final 21 months.
Duterte’s plan includes the installation of Romualdez as majority leader – essentially the right-hand man of the speaker – for a full three-year term.
The agreement is that the House members who would be chosen for the committee chairmanships would stay put even after Velasco’s takeover.
This means that the sitting leaders should be in good graces with both Cayetano and Velasco, thus adding another layer of consideration in the selection of House panel heads.
This is the first time that the speakership underwent a shared term set-up.
“Kung titignan ang mga nakaraang Kongreso, hindi ganun kadali or kabilis ang pag-organize (If we look at past Congresses, the act of organizing isn’t fast or easy). It usually takes a month or [two],” noted Romualdez.
The 18th Congress only began in earnest last July 22, the day of President Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).