‘Minority leader must not be an ally’
MANILA, Philippines — The next minority leader of the House of Representatives should neither be an ally of the administration nor “handpicked” by the ruling party, an opposition congressman said on Sunday.
Newly reelected Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said incoming House members should pick a minority leader who does not belong to a party allied with the Duterte administration.
“A genuine minority leader can only be assured if he or she is neither a member or a partisan of the administration nor handpicked by the ruling majority,” he said in a statement.
Lagman, leader of the Magnificent 7 opposition bloc and member of the Liberal Party, urged aspirants for the speakership to pick a common administration candidate among themselves to prevent the minority leader from being selected among the ranks of the administration.
“Since the declared aspirants, without any exception, are with the coalesced parties of the administration, then they should agree among themselves to field a common administration candidate,” he said.
2nd highest number of votes
Some of the candidates for Speaker include Representatives-elect Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte, the former Speaker; Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque; Martin Romualdez and Lucy Torres-Gomez of Leyte; Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig-Pateros, and Loren Legarda of Antique.
By tradition, the minority leader is the one who gets the second highest number of votes after the Speaker in an election.
But that was not the case in the 17th Congress.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez belonged to Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) party and was a known ally of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who led Lakas-CMD until she joined the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan in 2018.
In 2010, Suarez was also designated as the minority leader under the speakership of Alvarez, even though a third candidate, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, had received one vote more than Suarez in the election.
Suarez and Arroyo are both on their third and last term.
The 18th Congress opens in July, coinciding with the President’s fourth State of the Nation Address.
In his statement, Lagman noted that the aspirants for Speaker “all belong to the supermajority and many of them are even seeking the anointment of President Duterte.”
Thus, “a lone Duterte candidate for Speaker would foreclose the eventuality of a losing administration aspirant becoming the majority’s minority leader, an aberration which happened in the 17th Congress,” he said.
The minority leader, according to Lagman, must “represent the genuine opposition in the House; articulate and pursue differing views; act as a courageous sentinel of the people’s rights and sentiments; and not be beholden to the administration nor an adjunct of the supermajority.”
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