Capiz Rep. Castro eyeing House Minority leader post

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2019   •   487

Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro

MANILA, Philippines – Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro is considering seeking the Minority Leader post when the 18th Congress opens later this month.

In a statement, Castro said he is seriously studying suggestions by other congressmen for him to take the post “to maintain a credible balance of opinion on all issues” in the House of Representatives.

“I am seriously considering whether I could maintain my balance considering the hairline difference between being a minority member from an opposition. This is because, critical collaboration as distinguished from being destructive is called for,” he said.

Castro said he is open to suggestion and will wait for guidance before he responds to his fellow lawmakers’ call.

The Capiz representative served as Majority leader in the latter part of the 17th Congress, replacing Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr.

Castro’s statement comes after Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s suggestion for him to take the Majority Leader position instead following the latter’s endorsement of a term-sharing set-up between Congressmen Alan Peter Cayetano and Lord Allan Velasco as House speaker.

READ: Romualdez accepts House Majority Leader job

READ: Duterte: Cayetano, Velasco to share term as House Speaker

But Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate opposed Castro’s bid, saying the Minority Leader should come from the genuine opposition.

“Mahirap namang hawak na nga nila ang leadership ng Congress ay pati minority leadership ay kukunin pa nila,” Zarate said in a statement.

(It is not right for them to have the minority leadership when they already have the leadership in Congress.)

“If someone is to be the minority leader, he should at least be part of the true minority who opposes the anti-democratic and anti-people policies of the administration,” he added.

Zarate is the progressive Makabayan bloc’s candidate for House Speakership race. (with details from Grace Casin)

Lacson releases copy of Castro’s lobby letter seeking P258 million

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 27, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson has released a copy of Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro’s alleged lobby letter seeking financial assistance worth P258 million.

In a statement published on Thursday (September 26), Lacson belied Castro’s statement that the said letter was ‘fictional.’

“In a letter dated Sept. 19, 2019, Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro lobbied with Sen. Lacson for financial assistance to construct a municipal building for Dumalag town, costing P258 million,” the statement reads.

Lacson also posted on Twitter that Castro and his co-conspirators in the House had allegedly illegally inserted P95B in the 2019 national budget which was vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

On Thursday Castro said the letter was not related to pork barrel.

“It was not a lobby letter. It’s a letter-request just like any other letters I sent to other senators,” he said in a statement. “Lobbying is different. My letter-request shows my resolve to help my constituents. It’s not pork barrel.”—AAC

Lawmaker demands apology from Lacson over pork barrel accusations

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 26, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro has demanded an apology from Senator Panfilo Lacson for accusing him and other Congressmen of inserting ‘pork barrel’ funds in the 2020 national budget.

During his privilege speech on Wednesday (September 25), Castro said Lacson’s accusations has tainted the reputation of the institution.

“Because of this irresponsible and reckless act that has damaged not only the reputation of this institution but more importantly the reputation and integrity of each and every member of this house especially the newcomers who have come with their idealism in these halls intact,” he said.

The lawmakers added, Lacson has no right to make such accusations since he has not seen the General Appropriation Bill approved by the House of Representatives.

“That makes him more irresponsible. He has not seen a single line of the General Appropriation Bill, he has not studied yet as he claimed the GAB approved by the House,” Castro said.

However, Lacson maintained his stance on the issue and said Castro, along with other Congressmen allegedly involved in the pork barrel insertion, should apologize.

“As for those House members who abused the hard-earned money of taxpayers for the longest time that they availed of ‘pork,’ they are the ones who should apologize to the Filipino people,” Lacson said in a statement.

“The whining and howling of Congressman Castro and his like-minded colleagues will not distract me from performing my mandate of scrutinizing the budget measure,” he added.

On Monday (September 23), Lacson said several House members reported that House Deputy speakers will be getting additional P1.5 billion allocation in the proposed P4.1 trillion 2020 National Budget.

Lacson added that the House will also be getting another P700 million to allot for their pet bills.—AAC

Neophyte Senators get key committees in Senate

Marje Pelayo   •   July 23, 2019

The Senate of the Philippines released on Tuesday (July 23) its first batch of elected chairpersons for different committees this 18th Congress.

  1. Agriculture & Food – Sen. Cynthia Villar (retained)
  2. Blue Ribbon Committee – Sen. Richard Gordon (retained)
  3. Constitutional Amendments & Revision of Codes – Sen. Kiko Pangilinan (formerly chaired by Sen. Franklin Drilon)
  4. Economic Affairs – Sen. Imee Marcos (formerly chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian)
  5. Energy – Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (retained)
  6. Finance – Sen. Sonny Angara (formerly chaired by ex-Senator Loren Legarda)
  7. Foreign relations – Sen. Koko Pimentel (formerly chaired by now House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano)
  8. Games & Amusement – Sen. Lito Lapid (formerly chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson)
  9. Health & Demography – Sen. Bong Go (formerly chaired by ex-Sen. JV Ejercito)
  10. Labor, Employment & Human resources development – Sen. Joel Villanueva (retained)
  11. Local Government – Sen. Francis Tolentino (formerly chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara)
  12. National Defense & Security – Sen. Panfilo Lacson (formerly chaired by now DICT chief Gringo Honasan)
  13. Public Information & Mass Media – Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. (formerly chaired by Sen. Grace Poe)
  14. Public Order & Dangerous Drugs – Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa (formerly chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson)
  15. Public Services – Sen. Grace Poe (retained)
  16. Public Works – Sen. Manny Pacquiao (retained)
  17. Social Justice, Welfare & Rural Development – Sen. Leila De Lima (formerly chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar)
  18. Tourism – Sen. Nancy Binay (retained)
  19. Ways & Means- Sen. Pia Cayetano (formerly chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara)
  20. Women, Children, Family Relations & Gender Equality – Sen. Risa Hontiveros (retained)

Meanwhile, the Senate has yet to announce the chairpersons for the following key Senate Committees:

  1. Accounts
  2. Agrarian Reform
  3. Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies
  4. Civil Service and Government Reorganization
  5. Climate Change
  6. Cooperatives
  7. Cultural communities
  8. Education
  9. Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation
  10. Environment and Natural Resources
  11. Ethics and Privileges
  12. Government Corporations and Public Enterprises
  13. Justice and Human Rights
  14. Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation
  15. Rules
  16. Science and Technology
  17. Sports
  18. Trade and Commerce
  19. Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement
  20. Youth

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