MANILA - Renegade members of the majority propelled Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez as House minority leader through a "bastardized" election on Wednesday, the camp of Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said.
Baguilat is insisting that he is the rightful minority leader, and not Suarez whose election was allegedly part of a sinister plot to have a "coopted" minority bloc.
Baguilat and Suarez both ran for House Speaker on Monday against Davao Del Nort Rep. Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez of the PDP Laban.
Suarez garnered 251 votes while Baguilat and Suarez got 8 and 7 votes respectively.
As per Congress tradition, the runner-up candidate for Speaker should have been automatically designated as minority floor leader.
Ilocos Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, however, insisted that those who did not vote for Alvarez and the 20 representatives must choose their new minority leader in a meeting on Wednesday.
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During the meeting, 22 of the 25 congressmen present chose Suarez to lead the minority bloc. Three others abstained from voting.
In a press conference, Baguilat ally Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman decried the election, saying:"We feel very disappointed and disgusted that the process of electing minority leader has been bastardized."
"The minority leader has been chosen by a group of renegade abstentionees, who are not even members of the minority," he said.
Lagman earlier noted that the 20 congressmen who abstained last Monday have no say in the minority leadership because they are "independent Members of the House, and are neither minority nor the majority.
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, meanwhile, claimed Suarez had tried to urge him to throw his hat in the minority race with an offer that the majority will lend him "flying voters".
Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, another supporter of Balaguit, also compared the minority election to a rigged boxing match.
Baguilat said he plans to question the legality of Suarez's election before the Supreme Court.