VETERAN politicians Juan Ponce Enrile and Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte (Quezon City, 4th district) were elected as Senate president and House speaker yesterday.

Rep. Pablo Garcia (Cebu Province, 2nd district) was elected deputy speaker and said at least four other representatives from the province may gain committee chairmanships or vice-chairmanships.

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He identified the four as his son Pablo John Garcia (3rd district), Benhur Salimbangon (4th district), Eduardo Gullas (1st district) and Luigi Quisumbing (6th district).

In a separate interview, Pablo John said he was told by the leadership in Congress that he will be named chairman of the committee on public order and security.

But until he’s formally elected, he said he would rather not confirm it. He added he has no specific preference but he’s thankful that he’s being considered for the important committee.

“Wherever I’m needed, I’ll go,” he said.

Rep. Red Durano (5th district) said he’s eyeing one committee chairmanship but declined to name it, pending further discussions at the House.

First-term Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) confirmed yesterday he has been named vice-chairman of the committee on appropriations.

Osmeña said he “applied” for the position with an aim to help several parts of Cebu Province, like those whose leaders are identified with the Liberal Party.

Rep. Rachel del Mar said she has not been informed if she will be getting any vice-chairmanships, but said she submitted a list of committees she would like to join as a member: appropriations, ways and means, tourism, basic education, health, and information and communication.

Belmonte was declared House speaker after getting 227 votes, against Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman’s 29 votes.

At the Senate, Enrile got 17 votes against three votes for Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, to retain his post as Senate president.

Lagman was automatically elected as House minority floor leader, while Cayetano is now the Senate minority floor leader.

“Be assured I will work hard,” said Belmonte. “We are accountable to each and every Filipino that we serve. We are accountable according to the values of honesty and integrity.”

A total of 258 House representatives, out of the total 287, attended.

Among those absent was former president and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Pampanga, 2nd district), who accompanied her husband in Hong Kong for a medical check-up.

One of those absent in the Senate was Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

The Senate has only 23 members after Aquino’s election, but only 20 were present yesterday. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV was not allowed to leave detention and Sen.

Panfilo Lacson remained in hiding due to his alleged involvement in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

Enrile, 86, is the second post-Edsa Senate leader to receive an overwhelming confidence vote, after former Senate president Jovito Salonga. (Sunnex)