House shuffles committee chairs as it tackles 2021 national budget

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has revamped its committees, replacing three chairpersons in the fallout of the broiling leadership crisis hounding Congress, even as it grapples with the scrutiny of the proposed 2021 national budget.

The House announced three new chairpersons of committees, replacing Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan (Health), AAMBIS -OWWA Rep. Sharon Garin (economic affairs), and Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez (youth and sports), who are perceived to be allies of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

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The House appointed Guimaras Rep. Lucille Nava as Committee on Health chair; Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco, Jr. as Committee on Economic Affairs chair; and Manila Rep. Yul Servo Nieto as Committee on Youth and Sports chair.

The changes are seen as part of the ongoing crackdown of lawmakers perceived to be supportive of Velasco, who is contesting Cayetano’s leadership under a “15-21” term-sharing agreement brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2019.

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Cayetano has supposedly spurned the deal, refusing to yield to Velasco, while portraying his rival as an absentee lawmaker with weak leadership and a “poor grasp” of the budget process.

On Friday, the Cayetano-controlled House also removed 1-Pacman Rep. Michael Romero, president of the 52-strong party-list coalition, as deputy speaker, for supposedly taking sides in the speakership dispute.

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