Rigodon at Lord’s House continues

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    THE House leadership under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco yesterday continued to reorganize key positions in the lower chamber of Congress, increasing the number of deputy speakers and replacing the chairmen of some committees.

    While Reps. Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur and Aurelio Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga were removed from their posts as deputy speakers, they were elected as chairmen of the special committees on strategic intelligence and bases conversion, respectively. Pimentel replaced Capiz Rep. Fred Castro as the panel’s chair while Gonzales replaced Cavite Rep. Francis Abaya.

    Pimentel and Gonzales, both high-ranking officials of the ruling PDP-Laban party, were stripped of their posts as deputy speakers following reports that they had a hard time deciding who to support in the recent speakership fight between their party mate Velasco and then Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, whose list of supporters included the two congressmen.

    The new House leadership also elected additional deputy speakers, increasing it to 28 from 22.

    Last month, Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar, who is a party mate of the former speaker in the Nacionalista Party, declined after she was elected deputy speaker in place of Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, who is a staunch Cayetano supporter.

    The new deputy speakers are Reps. Arnolfo Teves of Negros Oriental, Juan Pablo Bondoc of Pampanga, Eric Martinez of Valenzuela, Bernadette Herrera-Dy of Bagong Henerasyon party-list, Kristine Meehan of Ilocos Sur, Divina Grace Yu of Zamboanga del Sur, Rogelio Pacquiao of Sarangani, Weslie Gatchalian of Valenzuela City, and Bienvenido Abante Jr. of Manila.

    Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison replaced Laguna Rep. Benjamin Agarao as member of the House contingent to the Commission on Appointments, Pangasinan Tyrone Aggabas for Hererra-Dy as deputy majority leader, and Amihilda Sangcopan as assistant majority leader in place of Meehan.

    Navotas Rep. John Rey Tiangco replaced Gatchalian as chair of the committee on trade and industry, La Union Rep. Sandra Eriguel for Yu as chair of the committee on inter-parliamentary relations, and Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas for Eriguel as chair of the committee on social services.