“Any committee is only as good as the most knowledgeable, determined and vigorous person on it. There must be somebody who provides the flame.” Lady Bird Johnson
By Alex P. Vidal
No one was surprised when some members of the legislative branches in the city and province recently fought tongs and hammer for chairmanship of certain committees like their next meal was at stake.
Even in the House of Representatives and the Senate, committee chairmanships are a matter of life and death for some solons. Aside from the privileges of prestige, ego-tripping and extra budget, corrupt committee chairs can use their positions for extortion and other money-making activities. Some of them consider their committees as fiefdom and weapon to harass and intimidate certain groups and individuals for various reasons.
We know of many committee heads who really took advantage of their committees’ power and influence to make a pile and enrich their pockets or the pockets of their business associates and relatives. Vengeful committee chairs who “made life difficult” for their political enemies, committee chairs who displayed conceit and arrogance, and those who showed their true colors during the hearings.
But there were those who were willing to be bruised by slugging it out to take certain committees by hook or by crook because they believed they could best implement their expertise based on their profession and background before being elected into public office, if given the opportunity to preside over the hearings.
A former teacher will most certainly lobby for chairmanship of committee on education. An engineer or contractor for that matter, will most certainly dance musical chairs for committee on infrastructure; an environmental activist for committee on environment; a media person for committee on media; a social worker for committee on social services, a retired cop for committee on police matters, so on and so forth.
There were cases when members of the legislative body and the presiding officer agreed among themselves to partition the committee chairmanships without engaging in unnecessary squabbling and name-calling like kindergarten pupils. The bottom line should be “everybody is happy.”
Committees up for grabs were ways and means, domestic and international relations and transportation; rules, urban poor, police matters, public utilities and environment, appropriations and communications, tourism, trade and Industry, infrastructures and market and slaughterhouse, health, zoning, social services, information technology, cooperatives, agriculture, natural resources, labor, senior citizens, women and children, moral recovery.
The committees, as key power centers in the legislative branch, would help ease the workload. Organized to hold hearings and investigate, committees will help the Sanggunian Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) and Sanggunian Panlungsod (City Council) to pass ordinances that are meaningful and necessary. The various committees were created by subject or topic, to investigate certain types of ordinances to make sure they are needed and will be effective.
Resolutions and ordinances begin and end their lives in committees, whether or not they are approved by the governor or mayor. Hearings from interest groups and agency bureaucrats are held at the committee level, and committee members play key roles in floor debate about the resolutions and ordinances that they foster.
Committees help to organize the most important work of the city and board members –considering, shaping, and passing ordinances to govern the city and province.