AdChoiceTV News — Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, an administration lawmaker identified with the previous House speaker, was stripped yesterday of practically all committee memberships in the chamber.
The move is seen as part of the reorganization in the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
Defensor, among the closest allies of former speaker Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, was removed as vice chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises headed by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez.
His removal was manifested in the plenary by House Deputy Majority Leader Rimpy Bondoc, and confirmed and announced by House Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero, who was booted out by the camp of Cayetano and Defensor during the speakership battle last October.
Romero, who was yesterday’s presiding officer, was removed as House deputy speaker by Cayetano.
Several other allies and perceived allies of Velasco also got the boot in February 2020, among them now Senior Deputy Speaker Doy Leachon and Deputy Speaker Isidro Ungab.
Cayetano, 50, is joined in the millennial BTS K-pop bloc by 70-year-old Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro and former deputy speakers LRay Villafuerte, 52; Raneo Abu, 53; Dan Fernandez, 55 and Reps. Defensor, 51, and Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, 38.
Last January, Defensor lost his vice chairmanship in five committees – health, public information, dangerous drugs, good government and strategic intelligence. This is on top of the House public accounts committee that he headed, which has been given to Velasco’s ally.
“Titles, names and positions do not define us. He may be Lord but he lacks the wisdom and good judgment to determine the right path of the House. Instead of uniting the House, he further divides it,” Defensor lamented.
Rep. Sharky Palma of Zamboanga-Sibugay replaced Defensor in the Alvarez committee, while Iloilo Rep. Lorenz Defensor was elected Deputy Majority Leader, replacing Palma.
Quezon City Rep. Onyx Crisologo was elected vice chairman of the House committee on games and amusement, but his position as Assistant Majority Leader was “declared vacant.”
His post as Assistant Majority Leader has now been taken over by Rep. Gil Acosta.
Rep. Ducille Cardema of party-list Duterte Youth was elected member of the powerful House committee on appropriations while Rep. Sabiniano Canama of party-list Coop-Natcco was elected as member of House committee on cooperatives.
Early this year, Cayetano’s two most trusted allies – Defensor and Villafuerte – were stripped of their membership in several committees as part of the ongoing revamp under the Velasco leadership.
Villafuerte – one of Cayetano’s most vocal allies – is no longer vice chairman of the public accounts committee. Defensor used to head that committee when the Bicolano congressman was deputy speaker.
“They can strip our positions, reduce the budgets in our districts, withhold the bonuses and salaries of our employees but one thing for sure is that we will not be intimidated by their continued harassment,” Villafuerte said.
Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan