THE election of Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman as deputy speaker in the 299-member House of Representatives has brought to six the number of deputy speakers from Mindanao out of a total of 22.
Elected earlier were Reps. Paolo Duterte (HNP, 1st District, Davao City), Ferdinand Hernandez (PDP, 1st District, South Cotabato), Prospero Pichay Jr. (Lakas, 1st District, Surigao del Sur), Johnny Pimentel (PDP, 2nd District, Surigao del Sur), and Henry Oaminal (NP, 2nd District, Misamis Occidental).
Deputy Speakers are the second highest-ranking officials in the House. When the Speaker is absent, a deputy takes over as presiding officer.
In the previous Congress (2016 – 2019), the first two years under a Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao, there were three deputy speakers from Mindanao: Bai Sandra Sema of Maguindanao, Hernandez of South Cotabato and Mylene Garcia-Albano of Davao City.
Hataman, who ran for the lone congressional seat of Basilan under the Liberal Party (LP), was acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao from Dec. 22, 2011 to June 30, 2013 and elected for two terms from June 30, 2013 to February 2019. His last three-year term was cut short by a few months with the ratification of Republic Act 11054 that replaced the Armm with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm).
The turnover from Armm to Barmm was in Feb. 26, this year.
Hataman, the lone LP member among the deputy speakers, is not a neophyte in Congress, having served for three terms as Anak Mindanaw party-list Representative from 2001 to 2010.
According to the House Rules, the duties and powers of the deputy speakers are:
• to assume the duties and powers of the Speaker when so chosen by a majority vote or by lot among themselves, as the case may be, in cases of absence or temporary incapacity of the Speaker, until such time that the Speaker returns to office and resumes work; and, in case of resignation, removal, permanent incapacity or death of the Speaker, until such time that a new Speaker is elected and qualified;
• to preside over the session when, even if present, the Speaker does not preside, or has not designated any other Member as temporary presiding officer;
• to monitor, coordinate and facilitate action on measures filed, requests, and other concerns of Members representing constituencies to which they may be assigned by the Speaker;
• to recommend to the Speaker appropriate policies, strategies and programs of action to improve the process of legislation and the quality of legislative measures, and to effectively address concerns of Members on matters affecting them, their constituencies, and the overall operations and integrity of the House;
• to appoint personnel of the House when so authorized by the Speaker; and
• to perform such other duties and functions as may be assigned or delegated to them by the Speaker.
An additional four representatives were elected deputy speakers. Aside from Hataman, elected were representatives Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas, Victor Savellano of Ilocos Sur and Michael Romero of 1-Pacman.
In a statement, Hataman thanked his colleagues “for the overwhelming confidence and the opportunity to serve as one of the deputy speakers of this esteemed chamber.”
“I will continue to champion the voice of Moros in the national leadership. Together with other like-minded members of this chamber, we will gather Moro leaders and establish a united front to address local security issues, such as violent extremism, terrorism and poverty, that all have a national impact,” he said.
Hataman also vowed to support the peace and development agenda in the Barmm, “ensuring that the needs of the people in the region are met” and assured victims of the Marawi Siege that they will “get what they deserve from the national government.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas of Mindanews)