Baguilat mulls SC intervention on minority leadership

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2016 08:10 PM

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr. and his allies plans to question the legality of Quezon Representative Danny Suarez's election as House Minority Leader before the Supreme Court.

"We are thinking about raising the issue to the Supreme Court—although this has to be studied well. And maybe some extralegal initiatives among our supporters," Baguilat told ANC's Dateline Philippines on Wednesday.

Baguilat fell second with 8 votes to Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon "Bebot"Alvarez's 251 votes in the election held on Congress' opening session on Monday, while Suarez had 7.

Traditionally, the runner-up for the speakership gets the role, but House Majority Floor Leader Ilocos Representative Rodolfo Fariñas insisted that the minority bloc should choose its leader in separate elections.

READ: 'Bastardized, rigged': Critics bash vote for House minority leader 

Suarez of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) was elected House minority leader on Wednesday amid claims that the PDP Laban-led majority rigged the race to ensure a meek minority bloc.

Baguilat maintained that legally and morally, Suarez does not have the mandate to be the minority floor leader.

"Congressman Fariñas read it during his manifestation that those who vote for the winning candidate for speaker becomes part of the majority coalition. That in itself, if you stick to the rules, disqualifies Congressman Danny Suarez," he said.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman will be raising this issue later, he added.

Former UNA President Toby Tiangco meanwhile bolted the party after an offer from Alvarez to lend votes to boost Suarez's bid for the minority leadership.

This seems supported, cited Baguilat, by a claim of Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice that Suarez approached him to ask for support a month ago. Erice declined, however, as he maintained support for former House Speaked Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte.

"Danny Suarez said, ‘oh he’s not going to win because I am the anointed minority [leader]. The majority bloc has promised to lend me votes'," said Baguilat.

The outpouring of votes was obvious in the voting, he said.

"The unusual number of abstain votes or abstain options of the members of the House of Representatives. Most of these who abstained were signatories to memoranda of agreement between the group—either the political party or their bloc, for instance the party-list bloc, with the PDP-Laban," he said.

Baguilat said they were disappointed with Suarez's election, but they were not particularly surprised.

"It didn’t really come as surprise. Definitely, of course, we are disappointed and we are not recognizing them as the legitimate minority. That’s why we are sticking to our position that we are the legitimate minority in the House of Representatives," he said.

He said though Suarez and the majority bloc will identify them as independents, they will continue to insist that they are the genuine minority, and will fight it out for a long while.

"This will hound them for the next three years because we would like to expose the sham machinations of the majority to have a co-opted minority. We will not give up on this issue," said Baguilat.

"Personally, I don’t want this to be a footnote in our journal, in our records," he added.

Baguilat pointed out, it may be "interesting" to see Suarez act as the fiscalizer when he is the principal author of the re-imposition of the death penalty and the granting of special emergency powers to the president to solve the traffic crisis.

"We will see if they will be true to their word that they would fiscalize this administration," he said.

WHAT HAPPENS TO LIBERAL PARTY?

Baguilat, Lagman, and Erice are part of the Liberal Party (LP) despite the minority bloc they have formed outside the party.

In LP, explained Baguilat, their individual preferences were respected even though the primordial concern was to keep the party together, hence the initial decision to join the majority.

But Baguilat and some colleagues from the formerly Belmonte-led party did not want to join.

"I, along with some others, expressed preference to join the minority, and nobody said that there will be sanctions in case you do not follow the party decision," he said.

Despite their preferences, then, they stay with LP, albeit belonging to the minority, which respects the other members' decisions, including Belmonte's nomination of Alvarez on the floor.

"When I entered the hall and some of my colleagues knew that I would be running for speakership, they gave me the thumbs up sign and said that my heart is with you, but as you know, as of now, we have signed already a commitment to join the majority," he recounted.

"As painful as it is, I respect that decision," he said.