Abante vows to be critical but collaborative
MANILA, Philippines — Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., a pastor and returning lawmaker, formally took the helm of the minority of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, vowing to make it a “critical and collaborative” force, and “not a company union.”
Most of the 31 House members who didn’t vote for Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano in Monday’s election officially constituted themselves as the minority bloc, including Makabayan bloc’s six members and another five from the divided Liberal Party.
There was no challenge to Abante’s assumption of the post of minority leader.
A pastor at Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church and Ministries in Santa Ana, Manila, Abante is known as a conservative, having fought against the passage of the reproductive health law, among other measures he deemed unchristian.
But on Tuesday, Abante pledged not to stop members from voicing out their personal conviction.
“You are free to speak what you want to believe in, even if, for example, that will not be the stand of the minority bloc,” said Abante, who served as congressman of Manila’s sixth district from 2004 to 2010.
A member of the United Nationalist Alliance, Abante is noted for standing his ground on legislative measures even against his own party’s stand.
Though he was with the majority at the time, he joined the minority in authoring the freedom of information bill and rejecting the right of reply bill, he said.
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