NPC decries removal of Rep. Helen Tan from House Committee on Health

Published October 8, 2020, 7:37 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) on Thursday decried the removal of Quezon 4th district Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan as chairperson of the House Committee on Health, a position that, under tradition and in consonance with the House rules, is allocated to the party.

 “This is unprecedented and in clear disregard of the House Rules, parliamentary courtesy and tradition,” the NPC said as it accused Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano of being behind the move.

Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit, head of the NPC contingent in the Lower House, said Cayetano not only violated rule and tradition, he also “compromised if not derailed” the legislative accomplishments of the Lower House when he  and his allies scuttled plenary deliberations on the proposed 2021 national budget and pursued its second reading approval.

The passage of the budget measure has been the object of numerous protests as it was done during a virtual plenary session that prevented oppositors from airing their objection to the move.

Cayetano’s moves were reportedly calculated at preventing the group of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco from pursuing a vote of no confidence on the speaker and pursue the eventual rise to the speakership of Velasco.

Members of the NPC are being suspected by the Cayetano group as among those who are supportive of Velasco’s bid to become speaker.

In fact, Duavit and fellow NPC stalwart Rep. Mark Enverga of Quezon were among the handpicked Velasco supporters who accompanied the Marinduque lawmaker in a meeting with President Duterte and Cayetano’s group where the 15-21 term sharing for the speaker was discussed.

1Pacman Partylist Rep. Mikee Romero and AAMBIS OWA Rep. Sharon Garin, who were also in the Velasco team during the Malacanang caucus, were also stripped of their positions as deputy speaker and chairperson of the Committee on Economic Affairs, respectively.

Aside from Tan,  Cayetano also caused the relief of another NPC solon, Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez, as chairman of the House Committee on Youth and Sports.

The NPC was clearly taken aback by Tan’s relief as health panel chairperson.

“Rep. Tan, a medical doctor, has consistently proven her worth as Chairman as shown by her impressive accomplishments in the previous and up to the present Congress as she played a key role in the passage of important laws geared towards the improvement in the delivery, accessibility and affordability of health care to every Filipino , one of which is the Universal Health Care Law,” said Duavit.

The NPC official added: “Yet, despite these sterling achievements, she became one of the early casualties caught in the political squabble and struggle over the Speakership.”

According to Duavit, committee chairmanships are based on party allocations to ensure their role and representation in the collective efforts to push for legislation to uplift the lives of the Filipinos. 

 “It has been a time-honored tradition that the replacement of a Committee Chairmanship shall be the nominee of the political party of the outgoing committee chairman who resigns, dies or is incapacitated to perform the functions as Chairman of a Committee,” he explained.

Duavit said they were informed that Tan was booted out because she was too  “disente” or decent, apparently to kowtow to the Cayetano group.