Capiz Rep. Castro eyeing House Minority leader post

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2019   •   910

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)

Senate on lockdown after staff tests positive for COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   March 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate of the Philippines will be under “total lockdown” on Tuesday, March 16, to give way to sanitation and disinfection of premises after a staff tested positive for COVID-19.

A personnel from the Legislative Bills and Index Service was confirmed positive for coronavirus on Monday, March 15.

“The entire Bills and Index (Service) is now quarantined. And so with that, we cannot make any amendments, any other bills to take up until the full sanitation is done,” said Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Sotto assured that none of the senators were exposed to the infected employee.

He added that only virtual hearings will be allowed on Tuesday while on-site sessions will resume on Wednesday (March 17).

Senator Richard Gordon offered the services of the Philippine Red Cross in case the Senate agrees to conduct a saliva-based COVID-19 testing.

Three employees of the Senate’s in-house catering service had also recently tested positive for COVID-19.

It prompted the Senate president to cut short the session time to until 6:00 p.m. as they could not compromise the schedule of deliberations given the load of proposed measures that they have to address.

The 18th Congress is set to suspend sessions for the 2nd regular session from  March 27 to May 16. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Talks on ABS-CBN franchise will have to wait for next Congress — Speaker Velasco

Marje Pelayo   •   February 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Allan Velasco maintained that calls to revive the franchise of media giant ABS-CBN will have to wait until the next Congress.

In a statement on Thursday (February 11), Velasco said the 18th Congress only has a year until the 2022 elections.

Thus, he said, “The House of Representatives is bent on finishing the remaining priority measures of this Administration to ensure that President Rodrigo Duterte fulfills his campaign promise to the Filipino people.” 

On top of these priority legislation, Velasco said, Congress is working double time to accomplish priority legislation such as the passage of the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act or the Bayanihan 3, as well as other economic bills geared toward rebuilding the Philippine economy following the impact of the global pandemic.

Several lawmakers have moved to revive the media giant’s franchise application by filing proposed measures to the same Congress that denied it in July 2020. 

READ: Duterte won’t allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a franchise, unless…

Recently, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that he will not allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a franchise unless the media firm settles its unpaid taxes to the government.

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

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