GMA  CALLS  LAKAS  CAUCUS

MANILA,  July 8, 2004
(STAR) 
By Paolo Romero -  President Arroyo is expected to preside at Malacañang today over a major caucus of lawmakers belonging to the pro-administration Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats to select committee chairmen in the House of Representatives.

"The caucus is overdue. Other political parties have already held their meetings vis-a-vis the composition of the coming Congress," a pro-administration lawmaker said.

"She (Mrs. Arroyo) will enforce party consensus on leadership positions," the lawmaker said.

A source said Mrs. Arroyo will push for Albay Rep. Joey Salceda to be named chairman of the powerful committee on appropriations.

Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. is reportedly backing Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya for the post.

During the caucus, Mrs. Arroyo is also expected to clarify the status of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), a group she founded in 1997 before running for vice president the following year.

Newly elected Antipolo City Rep. Ronaldo Puno revived Kampi last week.

Lakas lawmakers are expected to make a party stand on the issue of Charter change, particularly on what mode should be adopted — a constitutional convention or a constituent assembly.

The party’s coalition with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and the Liberal Party is expected to be reiterated during the caucus.

Meanwhile, Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza of NPC, who supported Fernando Poe Jr. in the last elections, has appealed that the naming of committee chairmen not be subjected to "horse trading" or backdoor negotiations.

"Let’s not make this (selection of chairmen) a bidding or ukay-ukay (surplus shop)," Plaza said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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