Fariñas told to leave Alvarez, stay as House majority leader

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 01 2018 04:06 PM | Updated as of Aug 01 2018 05:04 PM

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MANILA - Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas on Wednesday said he received an offer to cut ties with unseated Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and stay as majority leader.

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, who was among those who maneuvered for Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to ascend to her post, told him as early as March that there were brewing plans to replace Alvarez, said Fariñas.

The plan allegedly was akin to the scenario in 2008 when Davao City Rep. Prospero Nograles supplanted Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr. as the speaker, but all other House leaders kept their positions.

"Hindi ako ganiyan, I am a loyal person. I can’t abandon my leader. So if you replace him, I’ll go with him," Fariñas recalled telling these lawmakers who approached him.

He said he has also spoken to Arroyo and he insisted that he will "go wherever Bebot (Alvarez) goes."

"There are only 12 of us standing by him now, ano ba naman yun?...We’re just there. We’re not being loyal, we’re just being good friends," he told ANC's Headstart.

He told the former president that he "sympathized" with her because those behind the coup placed her in an "embarrassing" position.

He said Arroyo, who is the godmother of his deceased son, asked him to join the majority, but he wanted to stay with Alvarez in the minority and he promised they will not be "obstructionists." 

Alvarez was officially ousted as the speaker last week, just hours after President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his State of the Nation Address.

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Before the president's annual speech to Congress, House lawmakers voted for Arroyo in an apparently unofficial session. The ruckus delayed the SONA by about an hour.

Fariñas, who was among the House leaders that met with Duterte in the holding room before the SONA, said the President was "upset" because of what happened that day and instructed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to tell lawmakers "that they cannot do that." 

Arroyo then spoke with Medialdea in Fariñas' room before talking to Duterte. 

Duterte delivered the SONA with Alvarez by his side, but House lawmakers stayed after the address to make Arroyo's election official.