[MANILA - Five senators-elect took their oath before President Aquino Thursday in Malacañang: Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero, Sonny Angara, and Koko Pimentel. As Aquino invited the five on stage, Aquino made a quip about the decorative doves at the background of the stage: “So we will have peace with the Senate.” ]

MANILA, JUNE 17, 2013
(MANILA STANDARD) By Christine F. Herrera - Horse-trading begins early to ensure budget OK — Gonzales

Horse trading has begun well before the July 22 opening of the 16th Congress as the ruling Liberal Party is setting its sights on 30 of the 69 committees up for grabs and allocating a fewer number of seats to its election allies.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said under a sharing scheme based on the ratio of the number of seats won by each party, the National People’s Coalition would get leadership of 13 committees, the National Unity Party, nine; and the Nacionalista Party, two. Lakas-CMD, being an opposition party, would receive none, but as is the practice, the minority bloc will likely be given the House committee on ethics.

Gonzales said the horse trading in committee chairmanships was being done this early to avoid delays in the passage of the administration’s P2.268 trillion national budget for 2014.

It was also meant to speed the approval of Palace-backed economic bills.

Gonzales said the thrust of the House, in line with the Palace, would be economic bills that need time for deliberations, and so the House wanted to discharge the budget concerns as soon as possible.

He said the House leaders target “marathon deliberations” on the economic bills so that these can be approved within the first year of the 16th Congress.

“The Palace has more than one month to prepare economic measures,” Gonzales said, saying meetings have already been drawn up with the National Economic and Development Authority, the Finance and Trade and Industry departments and other agencies to come up with a budget draft that would be part of President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address.

Gonzales told radio dzBB that House leaders want to file the economic bills by June 30.

Gonzales also said the economic bills should be passed well before the presidential elections of 2016.

“The first two regular sessions should be fruitful,” Gonzales said, noting that the third regular session would be influenced by election-year politics.

In the last election, the LP won 110 seats; the NPC had 43; NUP, 24; and the NP, 20. The Lakas-CMD won 15 seats.

“This early, we are already coordinating with various parties such as the NPC, NUP and NP. We are asking them that by first week or end of first week of July, they could already submit the membership in each committee so that when we reelect Speaker (Feliciano) Belmonte (Jr.), we can begin organizing the House,” Gonzales said.

The first to be elected would be the chairman of the House committee on appropriations, which deliberates on the budget. The chairman would come from the LP, Gonzales said.

Apart from the Speaker and the committee chairmanship, the House would also elect all six House deputy speakers and the Minority Leader, who were among those who graduated in the 15th Congress because either their terms had ended or they lost their reelection bid.

Gonzales said there is no doubt that Belmonte will retain his post. The minority leadership would then be a toss-up between Romualdez and San Juan City Rep.-elect Ronaldo Zamora.

He said the House leadership could work well with either lawmaker.

“Anyone of them would be fine. I don’t see either of them as an obstructionist minority,” said Gonzales, who himself needs to be reelected by the plenary to remain Majority Leader.

A greater number of the party-list groups would be aligning with the majority coalition and be given committee chairmanships, he said.

There are 58 available seats for the party-list bloc in the House.

With the Senate now firmly in Liberal hands, Gonzales said, the administration ought to be able to push through its economic bills faster.

Senator Franklin Drilon, campaign manager of the Liberals during the last election, is the tipped favorite to become Senate President after Senator Juan Ponce Enrile resigned from the post last week.

Philippine Senate election, 2013

12 (of the 24) seats to the Senate of the Philippines 13 seats needed for a majority

Majority party
Leader - Franklin Drilon
Party - Liberal
Alliance - Team PNoy
Last election - Liberal-led coalition: 4 seats, 32.72%
Liberal Party only: 3 seats, 26.34%
Seats before - Coalition: 14 (8 up)
Liberal only: 4 (1 up) 
Seats won 9
Seats after 15 
Seat change Increase 1
Popular vote 175,716,460
Percentage 59.63%

Minority party
 Leader - Juan Ponce Enrile
Party - PMP
Alliance - UNA
Last Election - PMP-led coalition: 5 seats, 36.47%
PMP/PDP-Laban only: 3 seats, 18.09% 
Seats before - Coalition: 3 (1 up)
UNA only: 3 (1 up)
Seats won 3
Seats after 5
Seat change Increase 2
Popular vote 90,808,675
Percentage 30.82%
Senate President before election - Juan Ponce Enrile UNA
Elected Senate President - To Be Declared

  Philippine House of Representatives elections, 2013

All 292 seats in the House of Representatives of the Philippines. 147 seats needed for a majority

LEADER- Feliciano Belmonte, Jr

1st Party -LIBERAL
Leader Feliciano Belmonte, Jr
Leader's seat Quezon City–4th
Last election 45 seats, 20.02%
Last election 45 seats, 20.02%
Seats before 93+2 coalition
Seats won 110+2 coalition
Seat change Increase 17
Popular vote 10,705,477
Percentage 39.03%
Swing 19.26%


2nd Party- NPC (Nationalist People's Coalition)
Leader - Mark L. Mendoza
Leader's Seat - Batangas–4th
Last election 31 seats, 15.90%
Last election 31 seats, 15.90%
Seats before 39
Seats won 43 
Seat change  Increase 3
Popular vote 4,799,890
Percentage 17.50%
Swing 1.53%

3rd Party-NUP (National Unity Party)
Pablo P. Garcia
Leader's Seat - Cebu–2nd (lost)
Did Not Contest
Last Elections - Did not contest
Seats before 30
Seats won  24
Seat change  Decrease 6
Popular vote 2,355,195
Percentage 8.59%
Swing 8.59%
District election results; results for Metro Manila is magnified at the top right
Speaker before elections: Feliciano Belmonte, Jr | After elections - To be declared

Nacionalista Party
Leader - Mark Villar
Leader's seat Las Piñas
Last election 27 seats, 11.73%
Seats before 20 
Seats won 17
Seat change Decrease 3
Popular vote 2,340,932
Percentage 8.53%
Swing Decrease 2.81%

Leader - Ferdinand Martin Romualdez
Leader's seat Leyte–1st
Last election 107 seats, 37.84%
Seats before 22
Seats won 14
Seat change Decrease 4
Popular vote 1,363,126
Percentage 4.97%
Swing Decrease  32.44%

Leader - Toby Tiangco
Leader's seat  Navotas
Last election Did not participate
Seats before 11+1 coalition
Seats won 8+2 coalition
Seat change Decrease 2
Popular vote 3,127,769
Percentage 11.40%
Swing Increase 7.85%



Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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