Battle continues for House minority leadership

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 01 2018 01:29 AM

MANILA - The House of Representatives adjourned its plenary session Tuesday without settling the issue on minority leadership.

Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Romero "Miro" Quimbo, who claims to be the minority leader of the Liberal Party-Makabayan bloc, went head on with AKO BICOL party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe during the plenary session.

Batocabe said the election of Pampanga 2nd District. Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the new House Speaker does not automatically change the composition of the majority and minority, which were already defined at the start of the 17th Congress.

Under Rule 2, Section 8 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, a member may transfer from any camp by submitting a written request to the majority or minority leader.

"Ang ine-elect natin dito ay speaker bilang right natin as member of Congress, not for the determination of who will comprise the majority or the minority," Batocabe said.

Quimbo, however, called his fellow lawmaker's interpretation ridiculous.

He said Rule 2, Section 8 of the Rules of the House of Representatives states that members who vote for the winning candidate for speaker shall constitute the majority in the lower chamber.

"'Pag tumaya ka, tumaya ka. Hindi puwede dalawang sombrero mo. Number one supporter ka ng Speaker, at the same time ikaw ang mamumuno sa nagche-check and balance? Mahiya naman tayo," Quimbo said.

Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Raul Daza agreed with Quimbo, saying the rule on the composition of majority and minority applies every time there is a change in leadership and not just during the election of the House Speaker at the start of Congress.

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya told media the minority leadership row will be resolved Wednesday.

Asked on how to fix the issue, former Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said Arroyo may have to step in.

"It is the call of the leadership. We appeal to her that she should do it right," Fariñas said.

Should the lower chamber recognize Quezon 3rd District Rep. Danilo Suarez as minority leader, Fariñas is bent on bringing the case to the high court.

Suarez held the position under the leadership of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, but he voted for in the change of speakership.

"Anomalous 'yun. That will be grave abuse of discretion on the part of the leadership of House of Representatives to still recognize Suarez," Fariñas said.

Fariñas and 13 other lawmakers including Alvarez joined a minority group, which the former claimed is now headed by ABS party-list Rep. Eugene De Vera. 

He denied he is eyeing the minority leadership, but said he is open to it should he be nominated.

"I do not shirk from any challenge. 'Pag ako gusto nila,” Fariñas said.