Belmote defends distribution of committee memberships

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Saturday, March 15, 2014


THE leadership of the House of Representatives defended Saturday its decision to distribute committee membership to the legislators belonging to the independent minority bloc.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said that it is the duty of every lawmaker to legislate thus every member of the House should not be deprived to participate in the committee deliberations.

"I gave them committee assignments because I just felt like everybody ought to be doing something specific and have a particular committee to which he [/she] belongs," Belmonte said.

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He dismissed the allegations that the committee assignments were given to independent minority bloc members as reward for their support of the Resolution of Both House No. 1, which seeks to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

The Speaker said that he gave the assignments on his own, "but upon consultation with the majority leader who opposes and with the minority leader was willing."

Members of the independent minority bloc include Representatives Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Leyte), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Pampanga), Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo (Camarines Sur); Victor Ortega (La Union); Lani Mercado-Revilla (Cavite); Aleta Suarez (Quezon); Philip Pichay (Surigao del Sur); Jonathan dela Cruz (Abakada) Lito Atienza (Buhay).

Belmonte appealed to some lawmakers to stop questioning his decision.

"I really feel very bad when our companions here, some lawmakers---with malicious minds---ascribe bad intention to such a good thing as giving every member [of the House] a chance to participate fully," Belmonte said.

Some lawmakers in the minority bloc had earlier expressed wariness that the Speaker's move is tied with the Charter change (Cha-cha) push "to get the needed number" to pass the amendments easing the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Earlier, Belmonte filed RBH No. 1 at the opening of the 16th Congress last July 5 to add the phrase "Unless Provided by Law" in portions of the Constitution particularly on Sections 2, 3, 7, 10, and 11 of Article 12 (National Patrimony and Economy); Section 4 of Article 14 (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports); and Section 11 of Article 16 (General Provisions).

Belmonte said that latest measure it is the simplest form of amending the Charter, adding that it will not directly allowed the restoration of foreign ownership in the country but rather but rather "just providing keys to meet contingencies." (Sunnex)

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