Abstaining lawmakers have no right to call for minority meet – Baguilat
MANILA– If you’re in political purgatory or limbo, what right do you have to call for a meeting of the minority bloc to elect its leader?
This was the question raised on Tuesday by those who voted for Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, Jr. in the Speakership race on Monday, after they received a letter from those who abstained from choosing the Speaker inviting them to a meeting of the minority bloc today at 10 a.m. to choose their leader.
Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza has described the 21 congressmen who abstained from voting on Monday as akin to those in purgatory who are “neither in heaven nor hell.”
“Why would they call for a meeting? I think it’s funny,” Daza said in his interpellation of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, who pushed for the minority leadership of Baguilat.
“I said, how can the independent members of the House constitute themselves as minority and arrogate to themselves the authority to elect a minority leader?” Daza said, adding they did not have any right or privilege to convene a meeting of the minority.
Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco raised the same point.
“There was a paper given to me but I refused to sign it because for me, it’s a scrap of paper. They are independents until such time they are accepted as minority or majority,” Tiangco said on the floor.
Lagman, Daza, and Tiangco were among the eight congressmen who voted for Baguilat, who ran against Alvarez on Monday“to do what is right.”
Baguilat voted for himself. The others who voted for him were Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin, and 1-Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta.
Alvarez received 251 votes, Baguilat, eight, and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, seven.
“Eight is more than seven in any mathematical equation,” Lagman said.
Buhay partylist Rep. Lito Atienza said a minority leader has not been elected yet and pushed for the meeting and election on Wednesday.
Atienza was the one who asked majority floor leader, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas who comprised the minority and who was its leader. Fariñas replied that based on Section 8 of the Rules, the minority leader would be elected by members of the minority bloc.
But the Baguilat group insisted that by tradition, the one who received the next highest vote to the elected Speaker would automatically become the minority leader.
Lagman also questioned why Suarez was even being considered as in the running for minority leader when he voted for Alvarez, automatically making him a part of the majority.
Suarez told reporters that by tradition, a nominated candidate would not vote for himself.
At press time, the congressmen have been debating for nearly three hours to thresh out the minority leadership.
The Baguilat group believed that the majority bloc tried to manipulate the elections on Monday to ensure Suarez would become the leader of a “friendly minority.”
Alvarez and Suarez had both denied that the majority coalition would “lend” members to vote for the Quezon representative to ensure that he would have more votes than Tiangco, who expressed interest in becoming minority leader, and former Speaker Feliciano Belmonte of the LP. SFM
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