Alvarez camp seeks minority leadership, says Suarez

Vivienne Gulla and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2018 10:13 PM

MANILA - The camp of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez has formally asked newly elected House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to transition to the minority from the majority, a lawmaker said on Tuesday. 

House Minority Leader Rep. Danilo Suarez said House Majority Leader Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas met with Arroyo Tuesday afternoon.

Suarez said Alvarez's camp wants to field Fariñas as minority leader. But Suarez himself said he wrote a letter to Arroyo to signify his intent to maintain his status as a member of the minority even though he voted for her.

As part of the reorganization of the House leadership, Suarez revealed plans to recommend Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza as the new minority leader as Suarez will have a position in the new leadership.

In an interview, Arroyo said she hopes for a peaceful transition of House leadership, following her meeting with Fariñas, but admitted she has yet to talk to Alvarez after the takeover.

Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, meanwhile, said another member of ruling party PDP-Laban becoming House minority leader will be a "highly anomalous situation."

"It has come to my attention that the PDP faction of Rep. Alvarez will be seeking the minority leadership. It will be a highly anomalous situation simply because GMA is also PDP," Erice said in a statement.

“Where in the world can you find a parliament where the majority leader and the minority leader belong to the same political party. It's a mockery of the legislative process which is supposed to guarantee check and balance."

Erice, a member of the Liberal Party, said Arroyo, being a veteran parliamentarian and former president, should not allow it. 

"She has the responsibility to protect the real minority, otherwise, this Congress will be the same as the rotten Alvarez house which we ousted," he said.

"At this point in time of GMA, redemption and legacy can only happen in an honest to goodness legislative work."

In a separate statement, the Liberal Party said 12 of its congressmen abstained from the speakership vote. 

"The decision to abstain was a decision to strengthen the ranks of the minority, whose voice is essential in a strong, working democracy," it said.

"Part of the answer is a stronger minority that represents the people and will work to push for measures to address job creation, higher prices, and poverty alleviation.”