Lagman: Minority leader must be from opposition
MANILA, Philippines — Will the next minority leader of the House of Representatives again come from a “company union?”
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Monday offered himself as a candidate for minority leader as he urged presumptive Speaker and Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano to let a true member of the opposition take the post.
“If the House leadership and supermajority will not install their handpicked minority leader, then I will be available to represent the authentic and responsible opposition,” the leader of “Magnificent Seven” bloc said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Besides Lagman, one other person had expressed interest in the minority position: Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, who was the House majority leader in the 17th Congress.
“One of the important reforms in the House is the recognition of a genuine and constructive leader of the opposition,” Lagman said in a statement.
“A real and responsible opposition will not only assure a democratic legislative process but will also restore the credibility of the House of Representatives,” he said.
Lagman, a Liberal Party (LP) member, issued the statement amid speculations that his party might join the majority coalition in order to get its share of committee chairmanships and other prized positions in the chamber.
That speculation was fanned by comments made by Lagman’s party colleague, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, who said that once dominant LP might choose to support the coalition’s bet this time around.
In July 2018, the administration Liberals split from the majority coalition and unsuccessfully tried to elect former Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo as the minority leader.
Former Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, however, retained the post, even though he was a known supporter of then Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
LP, according to Lagman, would have another meeting on Wednesday to try to reach a party decision on who to vote for Speaker and minority leader.
By House tradition, the minority leader is the one who gets the second highest number of votes after the Speaker in an election.
But that tradition was not heeded in the 17th Congress when a separate election of the minority leader was held.
Lagman noted Cayetano’s repeated pledge to institute reforms in the House.
Authentic minority leader
Unfortunately, “he has never mentioned about respecting the emergence of an authentic minority leader,” he said.
“This selective and discriminatory stance augurs the anointment by the supermajority of the next minority leader, a practice reminiscent of the 17th Congress where the leader of the so-called opposition was twice handpicked by the House leadership,” Lagman said.
“The rejection of a possible minority leader and the accommodation of a favored one is installing a ‘company union’ in disguise,” he said.
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