Minority leadership remains heavily contested

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2018 08:23 PM

MANILA - The House of Representatives has a new majority leader, following the leadership takeover by the camp of Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. was elected majority leader, replacing Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas. 

Andaya, who used to be Arroyo’s budget secretary, took his oath before Arroyo.

If Andaya’s election to majority leader post was received without objections, the minority leadership remains heavily contested.

During the session, Rep. Miro Quimbo questioned the Majority Leader’s reference to Rep. Danilo Suarez as minority leader.

He claims lawmakers who abstained from and refused to vote for Speaker Arroyo picked him to be minority leader.

Quimbo asserted that Suarez, who held the minority leadership post, now belongs to the majority, after campaigning and voting for Arroyo.

He cited Sec. 8 of Rule 2 which states that "Members who vote for the winning candidate for Speaker shall constitute the Majority in the House and they shall elect from among themselves the Majority Leader. "

The Marikina representative also pointed out that the minority has the role as fiscalizer, which may not be performed by someone who supports the Speaker.

But Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. insisted, despite the change in speakership, the minority leader post has not been declared vacant, which means that Suarez continues to hold it.

BUHAY Rep. Lito Atienza added, if Quimbo’s camp wants to belong to the minority, they should apply to the minority leader.

This was also the opinion of Fariñas, but he clarifies that in his opinion, Suarez abandoned his minority leadership post when he voted for the winning speaker.

The same, he said, is true for others in the minority who voted for Arroyo, which, according to Farinas, means that the acting minority leader at the moment, is deputy minority leader Eugene de Vera.

Other lawmakers expressed interest to interpellate on the matter, but the House agreed to put it on hold until tomorrow, when the House resumes session, so it can pursue other legislative work.

Along with Andaya, Dante Maling was elected acting House Secretary-General, while former Presidential Security Guard (PSG) chief Romeo Prestoza was elected new Sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives. Prestoza was Arroyo’s PSG Chief.