The 16th City Council of Puerto Princesa. File photo.
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The newly-inaugurated 16th City Council elected its new leadership and assigned chairmanships of its standing committees on Monday.

During the orientation held on June 27, some committee chairmanships were given to first-time city councilors.

Councilor Elgin Damasco, a newbie in the City Council, was elected chair of the controversial market and slaughterhouse, energy, public utilities and facilities, and transportation committees.

In a statement, Damasco said he is aware of the difficult issues being handled by the transportation committee but is “willing to face it regardless of the consequences”.

“Marami ang nagsasabi, lalo na mga kaibigan ko na huwag na huwag kong tanggapin ang komite na ito kung gusto kong magtagal sa pulitika. Ito daw ang dahilan kung bakit hindi nanalo pa sa nagdaang elections ang mga konsehal na humawak dito. Pero hindi ako takot. Mawala man ako sa pulitika, tiyak na makapaglilingkod pa rin ako sa mga mamamayan sa ibang paraan,” Damasco said.

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The committee was chaired by former councilor Rolando Amurao, who attributed his loss to the votes of the transportation sector, particularly tricycle drivers and operators who disagreed withs traffic policies and ordinances.

In the same statement, Damasco said that he will push for the lowering of the penalties attached to traffic violations, especially those which involve tricycles.

Damasco also said that he will actively conduct public consultations on every transportation issues.

Another first-time councilor, Atty. Herbert Dilig, will chair the committees on peoples organization and non-governmental organization (NGO) affairs, and information and communications technology.

Councilor Matthew Mendoza became chairman pro tempore while Councilor Victor Oliveros will serve as the majority floor leader.

Mendoza’s primary roles are to preside over the 16th City Council in the absence of presiding officer Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates, exercise power when she is not present and assume other assigned duties.

The position was held in the past by Councilor Jimmy Carbonell who assumes the assistant chairman pro tempore.

As majority floor leader, Oliveros will be the lead speaker for the majority party during floor debates, develop the calendar, and assist in the program development, policy formation, and policy decisions; a position held in the 15th City Council by former councilor Jonjie Rodriguez.

Selected assistant majority floor leader is Councilor Henry Gadiano; minority floor leader is Councilor Jimbo Maristela and assistant minority floor leader is Councilor Patrick Alex Hagedorn.

Maristela of the minority bloc, on the other hand, will chair the committee on trade, commerce and industry and the committee on human rights and migration.

Maristela said that while he is the minority, the City Council has only one common vision, which is “to promote the welfare of Puerto Princesa”.

“Normal lang naman na magkakaroon ng mga debate, pagtatalo, pero at the end of the day is siguro naman mapagkakasunduan din naman natin kasi lahat naman tayo, minority man o majority, ang gusto naman natin talaga ay mapabuti ‘yong lungsod ng Puerto Princesa,” Maristela said.

Hagedorn, who was not given any committee chairmanship, said he will support moves to lessen the penalties on traffic violations involving tricycles.

“Unang-una ‘yong naipangako natin ‘yan sa ating mga tricycle drivers ‘yong penalty na pagkalaki-laki dapat mabawasan natin. Isa pa lang ‘yon at marami pa kayong maaasahan. We will go at it as it goes. Titingnan natin kung ano ang kailangang maayos natin dito sa ating bayan,” Hagedorn said.

The other committee chairmen are:

* Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates – committee of the whole and social welfare and community development.
* Councilor Victor Oliveros – appropriations; food, agriculture, and fisheries; education and culture, and landed estate and urban development.
* Councilor Henry Gadiano – cooperatives and livelihood, and waste management, disposal, sewerage system and wastewater.
* Councilor Gregorio Roy Ventura – ways and means; health and sanitation, and human resource development and organization.
* Councilor Jimmy Carbonell – environmental protection and natural resources; games and amusement, and peace and order and public safety.
* Councilor Nesario Awat – labor and employment; housing and urban poor; legal matters, and good government, public ethics, and accountability.
* Councilor Matthew Mendoza – local and international relations and tourism; public works and infrastructure;
* Councilor Francisco Gabuco – barangay affairs.
* Councilor Myka Mabelle Magbanua – women, child, and family welfare and youth and sports development.
* Councilor Nestor Saavedra – indigenous people and cultural communities.

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