Did Davao City 3rd district Rep. Isidro Ungab just secure the chairmanship of the powerful House Appropriations Committee?
Such question was left on the minds of observers after Ungab formally joined the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) on Tuesday, July 19.
Lakas-CMD is headed by its president, Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez, who is also the presumptive House Speaker in the upcoming 19th Congress.
"I am happy and very much honored to join Lakas-CMD party. I thank Vice President and Lakas-CMD Chair Sara Z. Duterte and presumptive Speaker and party president Martin Romualdez and the rest of the Lakas-CMD for accepting and welcoming me as member," Ungab said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
"I fervently share Lakas-CMD’s support for unity, peace and progress, and I am inspired to join them in their effort to take on the difficult challenge of steering our country towards economic recovery and working for improved welfare of the Filipino people," he added.
Before this, Ungab was already being rumored to be a strong contender for appropriations panel chairman--one of the top three most powerful positions in the House of Representatives. Only the speaker and majority leader hold more sway.
The appropriations panel is at the forefront of the deliberations on the national budget, which is passed every year.
The Mindanaoan was the appropriations panel chief during the speakership of Taguig-Pateros lone district Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano during the early part of the previous 18th Congress.
On Monday, Romualdez told House reporters that the choice of chairmanships of the House committees would be determined by proper representation of the existing political parties in the chamber.
Lakas-CMD is arguably the most influential and powerful party in the House, and it's the prerogative of the Speaker to handpick the solons who would chair the panels.
Ungab's is a stalwart of regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), which is also Vice President Duterte's regional party. Lakas-CMD is a national party.
Earlier this month, Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda left national party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) to join Lakas-CMD. Salceda is expected to retain his chairmanship of the Committee on Ways and Means, another vital panel in the House.