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2010 in Focus

2010 in Focus: The Congress

[For the Congressmen of the 15th Congress, click here.]

We’ve earlier assessed the composition of the Upper House, also known as the Senate. Now, we’ll look at the other half of the bicameral Congress, the Lower House. The Lower House’s membership is almost 12 times bigger than that of the Senate. As a result, “the numbers game” and the “3/4 rule” are usually exhibited in passage of bills, observance of quorum, and most notably in the approval of impeachment complaints against the President.

For the third installment of 2010 in Focus, The Stand looks at the current composition of the House of Representatives, and how the 2010 Elections might shake it up. We’ve also sort the Representatives of the 14th Congress by party affiliation, by term, and by district.

A Little Overview

Congressmen, as they are usually known, have three-year terms, and are allowed to be elected for three consecutive terms. Each legislative district in the Philippines, numbering 215*, has its own representative in Congress.

In addition, voters elect party-lists embodying different sectors in society during elections. The winning party-lists obtaining at least 2% of total party-list votes nominate its representative(s) to the Congress. However, the Congress follows a certain formula as stated by the Constitution to dictate how many sectoral representatives in all, as well as how many representatives per party-list, would be allowed to sit in Congress.

Congress Membership

The House of Representatives of the 14th Congress presently has 267 members: 215 district, and 52 sectoral Congressmen. There were originally 272, but sadly four died in office: Rep. Wahab Akbar [Basilan] who died during the 2007 Batasan Bombing, Rep. Danilo Lagbas [Misamis Oriental, 1st District], Rep. Victor Dominguez [Mountain Province], and Rep. Crispin Beltran [Anak Pawis party list]. Danilo Ramon Fernandez was elected as Congressman of the 1st District of Laguna, but was removed from office after failing to meet minimum residency requirements.

Meanwhile, Rep. Josephine R. Lacson-Noel [Malabon-Navotas], replaced in 2009 the elected Alvin Sandoval after winning an electoral protest.

Representatives by Party Affiliation

Unlike the United States’ two-party system between the Democrats and Republicans, the Philippines abide by the multi-party system. As a result, it is difficult to gauge and predict the inclination of Congress as one body towards certain national issues and agenda.

Anyhow, here’s the current composition of the House of Representatives according to party affiliation.

Composition of the 14th Congress

The Lakas-KAMPI-CMD Party is the ruling party in the current Congress, with 138 Congressmen (64% of all district representatives) affiliated with the party. This means that if they could always convince 63 more Congressmen, the Party would always have its way and attain a 3/4 majority when voting on certain bills and complaints. The party came to be after the Lakas-CMD Party and Pres. GMA’s KAMPI Party merged in 2009. House Speaker Prospero Nograles [Davao City, 1st District] is a member of the party.

However, the said merger was not OK to every member of both parties. The faction of former Pres. Fidel Ramos and Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr. [Pangasinan, 4th District] broke away from the merged party and sticked with the Lakas-CMD Party, calling themselves the “Lakas Originals”.

Coming in second is the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), with 31 members. Prominent surnames within the party include Cojuangco, Mitra, Duavit, Dy, Angping and Gatchalian. Deputy Speaker for Luzon Arnulfo Fuentebella [Camarines Sur, 3rd District] is of the NPC.

In third and fourth places are two political parties making another “renaissance” in Philippine politics: the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party, with 16 and 13 members, respectively, in Congress. The LP and NP were bitter rivals in Philippine politics, dating back to the 1940’s.

The Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino Party (PMAP) is headed by former Pres. Joseph Estrada, while the United Opposition (UNO) coalition by Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay. Both parties hold three seats each in Congress.

PDP-LABAN and LDP also hold three seats each. PDP-LABAN was formerly associated with former Pres. Cory Aquino, while the LDP is headed by Sen. Edgardo Angara.

The KBL is associated with the Marcoses, and its only member in Congress is the former President’s son, Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. [Ilocos Norte, 2nd District].

There are three Independents in Congress: Reps. Roilo Golez [Paranaque City, 2nd District], Edno Joson [Nueva Ecija, 1st District] and Luis Villafuerte [Camarines Sur, 2nd District].

The remaining 52 seats go to party-list representatives.

Representatives by Term of Office

Congressmen by Term (14th Congress)

If there is something sure in the 2010 Legislative Elections, it is the fact that there would be 69 seats left by Congressmen on their third and final terms for 1st Termers to be elected in the 2010 Elections.

Almost 2/3 of the 3rd Termers are from the Lakas-KAMPI-CMD Party, so if we’re talking strategy here, other parties must focus on winning those 42 seats of the ruling party.

It should also be noted that all seats would be on the line in the 2010 Elections. With the re-emergence of the LP, NP and NPC, as well as the reinforced forces of PMAP-UNO, we may see a major change in the landscape of the 15th Congress, in terms of party affiliation of its members.

From here, we’ll concentrate on the district Congressmen of each major island group in the country — that is, of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Congressmen of Luzon Chart (14th Congress)

Luzon has the most representatives among the three island groups, with 117. Pangasinan and the City of Manila has the most districts, with six. The NCR has the most representatives, with 29.

As we can see above, the ruling party has strong supporters from Regions III, IV-B and the CAR. The LP has a strong showing in the CALABARZON area, while the NP has five Congressmen from the NCR. The NPC has representatives for every region in Luzon.

The representation and party affiliation in NCR is notable, because every party (except KBL) is represented in the said region. Note the colors in the chart above. The representatives of Region IV-A is also an interesting observation.

Congressmen of Visayas Chart (14th Congress)

The Visayas is the ruling party’s biggest stronghold, as evidenced by the chart above. Only three parties rule in Visayas: Lakas-KAMPI-CMD, NPC and LP. The NPC has no representatives from Eastern Visayas, while the LP (despite the presence of the Osmeñas in Cebu) has none in Region VII.

Cebu and Negros Occidental has six representatives each, the most in the island group.

Congressmen of Mindanao Chart (14th Congress)

Mindanao is almost an administration stronghold, if not for the few per region coming from different parties. The NPC has five representatives from Mindanao, while the LP, NP and PMAP have two each.

Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon and Davao City are the most represented ones in Mindanao, with three districts each.

So there you go. After the 2010 Elections, we’ll all see how the landscape of the House of Representatives would change, and if the ruling party would retain its majority in Congress. The 2010 Elections is a colorful one, and would surely be an interesting one!

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