Lagman opts to stay independent; hits majority-installed minority leader
MANILA, Philippines — Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman has opted to remain with the independent opposition as he criticized presumptive minority leader, Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., whom he said was installed by the majority.
In a statement, the Liberal Party (LP) lawmaker said the candidates for Speaker–Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, and Abante–are “the identical sides of the same supermajority coin.”
The chamber elected Cayetano as its leader with 266 votes while Abante got 28 votes. According to previous House rules, the losing Speaker bet would become minority leader.
Other LP members and the progressive Makabayan bloc have signified their support for Abante.
“A genuine Minority speaks truth to power in safeguarding the country and people it serves. As such we agree to support Rep. Bienvenido ‘Benny’ Mirando Abante, Jr. of the 6th District of Manila from the Asenso Manileño as our Minority Leader,” LP Secretary-General and Quezon City 6th District Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte said in a press conference.
Lagman lamented how precedents like the majority installing the minority leader continue to happen in the chamber dominated by pro-administration lawmakers.
“Although the dogma is that there should be no idolatrous adherence to precedents, the unfortunate fact is that precedents die hard, including those which are blatant aberrations like the majority choosing the minority leader,” Lagman said.
The veteran lawmaker also pointed out that what happened in the 16th and 17th Congresses where the choice of a minority leader was decided by the ascendant majority, is “perpetuated” in the 18th Congress where the installation of a minority leader “has been brokered and approved by the supermajority coalition.” /jpv
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