Aquino House allies welcome challenge from Arroyo camp
MANILA, Philippines—Bring it on. This was the message of some members of the Liberal Party-led coalition in the House of Representatives in response to a threat by an ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a member of Congress, to retaliate to perceived attacks from the Aquino administration.
Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III of Quezon said, “We await whatever disclosures Representative (Danilo) Suarez will make, if there is really any.”
Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio A. Abaya, LP secretary-general, said he welcomed the challenge posed by Suarez that the Arroyo bloc would launch an offensive against President Aquino for allegedly harassing its members with court cases, notably Ang Galing Pinoy Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo and Local Water Utilities Administration chair Prospero Pichay.
“As minority, that is their role. A vibrant minority is healthy for a democracy. They should be firm in their resolve,” said Abaya.
Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara said he found nothing threatening from the statement of Suarez because he was just living up to the role of the opposition in a democracy.
“They criticize and expose weaknesses in the incumbent administration and act as a counterweight or check on the government,” said Angara.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte was not rattled by Suarez’s statement as he said it had no impact on the alliances in the Lower House. Belmonte noted that the Lakas-Kampi members who joined the majority (around 20 representatives) remain firmly with the LP coalition.
But more than the threat made by Suarez, Tañada said the deputy minority leader’s statement belied the divided stand of the Lakas-Kampi as leaders of the Arroyo party disowned Suarez’s claim.
“What is intriguing is the contradictory statements issued by Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. and Representative Suarez on the position of Lakas vis-a-vis the Aquino administration. It just shows that Lakas is not united and Senator Revilla is not being listened to,” said Tañada.
Suarez claimed Thursday morning that Revilla, as Lakas-Kampi president, had ordered his party members to retaliate against the attacks made by the administration on the young Arroyo and Pichay. Revilla, however, swiftly denied making any such order, saying this was not the time for strife.
Minority Leader Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, chair of Lakas-Kampi, issued a statement vowing to “pursue critical cooperation with the Aquino administration for the national interest but would resist being ensnared in partisan adventurism” with the “minority going to maintain this tempered posture and will not engage in virulent and baseless opposition.’
Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas denied Suarez’s claims that Lakas-Kampi has made a party stand to attack the Aquino administration.
“I don’t wish that this administration fails. In fact I want it to succeed because the nation will succeed with it. While I’m in the minority, I am unlike the previous opposition, which was destructive. I play my role as member of the minority, to debate on issues, policies and principles,” said Cagas.
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