THE House of Representatives is looking at increasing its number of deputy speakers from the traditional three to 12 to ensure regional representation of lawmakers especially in the event that federalism pushes through, House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said.
Fariñas said lawmakers agreed to increase the numbers of deputy speakers during a majority caucus last Tuesday, calling it a “trial balloon” toward federalism.
“We could try if it is viable to divide ourselves into 12 ‘states.’ We will see how the grouping will work politically, for more efficient harnessing and coordination of members. We consulted with all the members, all parties were represented, and they were in favor that we do that, a division of political boundaries,” Fariñas told reporters.
“The matter of increasing the number of deputy speakers was discussed in the majority caucus because the thrust of the Duterte administration is toward federalism. We looked at this as a possible creation of states which we could later become federal states and we came up with 12,” Fariñas said.
The Lower House traditionally elects only three deputy speakers, one each for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. But the 17th Congress agreed to elect six deputy speakers.
They recently elected five deputy speakers: Raneo Abu of Batangas, Fredenil Castro of Capiz, Miro Quimbo of Marikina City, Mercedes Alvarez of Negros Occidental and Eric Singson of Ilocos Sur.
One more seat is vacant as it is being reserved for a deputy speaker from the party-list groups.
Fariñas admitted that the creation of additional deputy speakers is experimental.
“We won’t go for the old political boundaries because there is an apprehension that some [existing regions] will not survive. You have to regroup them in such a way that there are rich and poor,” Fariñas said.
“It is a trial of how we can work. Before you can go on with the division of all these boundaries, we will look if this is politically viable,” Fariñas stressed.