By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter
THE Senate’s reorganization for the 18th Congress is almost complete, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said, following a Wednesday dinner attended by both incumbent and incoming senators.
Mr. Sotto in a mobile phone message to reporters, Thursday, described the meeting as “Very good. Way beyond cordial. Off to a good start I could say.”
The dinner, hosted by Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, was attended by five of the six new senators, including Senators-elect Imee R. Marcos, Ronald M. Dela Rosa, Christopher Lawrence T. Go, Ramon B. Revilla, Jr. and Francis N. Tolentino.
Senator-elect Pia S. Cayetano was not in the meeting as she is currently abroad.
Mr. Sotto recounted giving the senators pieces of paper and asking them to write their preferred committees.
“Well, parang mare-resolve ng kusa, kasi ang nangyari, pagkatapos namin mag-dinner, binigyan ko sila ng piece of paper na nandoon lahat ‘yung mga pangalan nila at pwede nilang isulat ‘yung kanilang preferences,” he said in a phone patch interview with reporters, Thursday. (Well, so that this can be resolved, what happened was, after we had dinner, I handed them pieces of paper with their names, where they could list down their [committee] preferences).
So far, the new senators present agreed to give the public order and dangerous drugs committee, currently chaired by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, to Mr. dela Rosa; the health and demography, and urban planning, housing and resettlement committees to Mr. Go, and the local government committee to Mr. Tolentino.
The chamber has yet to decide on the committee to be chaired by Ms. Cayetano, whom Mr. Sotto is considering for the ways and means committee.
“Sa grupo, pinag-u-usapan namin, kahit si Senator Lacson, ang gusto namin ialok kay Pia Cayetano, kung pwedeng i-chair kasi alam mo naman si Pia, nerd ‘yun, so kayang-kaya niyang pag-aralan talaga yun,” he said. (What the group discussed, even Senator Lacson, we’d like to offer the [ways and means] committee to Pia Cayetano, because, you know, Pia, she’s a nerd, so she can study it.) He noted Ms. Cayetano was also interested in the committee on education, which the chamber might divide into two — basic education and higher and technical education.
Mr. Revilla prefers the committees on civil service, government reorganization and professional regulation, and public information and mass media, which Ms. Marcos also wants.
The public information and mass media panel is currently headed by Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares. She agreed to give it up but requested to chair the committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, which will be left by outgoing Senator Francis G. Escudero.
Ms. Marcos is also looking into the committees on agrarian reform and on social justice, welfare and rural development, chaired respectively by Senator Cynthia A. Villar, and detained Senator Leila M. De Lima.
Senator Manuel M. Lapid will head the committee on games and amusements; Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III, the committee on foreign relations; and Mr. Lacson, the committee on national defense and security.
Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan will likely remain the chair of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes.