Representative Roberto “Robbie” Puno of the National Unity Party (NUP) was elected Deputy Speaker in the 16th Congress when it formally opened last Monday, July 22, 2013.
Puno, who represents the first district of Antipolo, was selected by his peers in the House along with five other deputy speakers from other political parties.
He and the five other deputy speakers are the second highest ranking officials of the House. They are tasked to preside over the sessions of the Chamber in the absence of the Speaker.
Puno previously served as vice chairman of the committees on appropriations, on energy, and on games and amusements in the 14th and 15th Congresses.
He was, and continues to be, one of the leading advocates of youth-friendly measures and programs in the House. Puno has authored or co-authored several measures on education and healthcare, such as House Bill 93, which aims to strengthen and enhance the use of English as a medium of instruction, and HB 5622, which aims to increase the bed capacity of the Quirino Memorial Medical Center.
A sports enthusiast, Puno also focused on sports-related concerns, such as HB 3825, which seeks to establish a Philippine High School for Sports; HB 4440, or the proposed Revised Philippine Sports Commission Act of 2011; and HB 6119, which aims to institutionalize the conduct of the Palarong Pambansa.
Under Section V of the House Rules, any one of the deputy speakers can also 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.”
The deputy speakers are also tasked “to monitor, coordinate and facilitate action on measures filed, requests, and other concerns of [House] Members representing constituencies to which they may be assigned by the Speaker.”
They can also “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.”
At the opening of Congress last July 22, Quezon City Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr, the honorary chairman of the NUP, was re-elected as Speaker by an overwhelming vote, with 245 out of 267 lawmakers present choosing to reinstate him to the House top post.
Also elected deputy speakers were Representatives Henedina Abad (Batanes, Lone District), Giorgidi Aggabao (Isabela,4th District), Sergio Apostol (Leyte, 2nd district), Pangalian Balindong (Lanao del Sur, 2nd district) and Carlos Padilla (Nueva Vizcaya, Lone District).