House minority fight may reach SC – Erice
MANILA — The messy fight for Minority Leader in the 17th Congress is expected to reach the Supreme Court if Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez would recognize Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez instead of the duly elected winner Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat.
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said the majority coalition should respect the rules and recognize the votes of the eight lawmakers who chose Baguilat in the Speakership race on July 25 to avoid an embarassing clash in the high court.
Erice said that Suarez clearly lost the battle for the minority post because he only had seven votes.
Erice also noted that Suarez was technically not a minority member because he voted for Alvarez as Speaker.
Supposedly, the second highest vote-getter in the election for Speaker automatically gets to be the Minority Leader.
Erice claimed that the majority was trying to manipulate the results by refusing to recognize Baguilat as the minority leader and allowing the minority bloc to conduct another vote just enable Suarez to win.
“There were 17 who abstained from the Speaker’s election and are automatically part of the minority. But we believe that their plan is to have only two of the abstaining congressmen to vote for Suarez with the rest going back to the majority,” said Erice.
Erice noted that Alvarez has so far appointed only five Deputy Speakers with the last slot reserved for the Party-list bloc coalition whose members made up most of those who abstained.
Erice said this ploy has only made the majority’s scheme “more obvious and patently illegal.”
“We will not tolerate this gross manipulation of the votes and we believe that the SC will vote in our favor,” said Erice.
Baguilat said that Congress has suffered from the majority’s dirty tricks. “We cannot organize our committee without the participation of the minority. Congress cannot function until they resolve the issue,” said Baguilat. SFM
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