Who owns ‘minority’ tag in the House?
House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez issued on Tuesday an advisory clarifying the identities and roles of the official minority group and the independents bloc.
“Recent news and coverage have erroneously attributed statements from the group of independents, led by [Albay Rep.] Edcel Lagman, [being from] the Minority Bloc,” Suarez said in a statement.
“Let us be clear that, as per the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Minority Bloc is composed of 18 members led by the undersigned,” he said.
Suarez made the clarification after independent lawmakers were identified as being part of the minority when they asked the Supreme Court to nullify President Duterte’s martial law declaration.
“We emphasize the distinction between the Majority Bloc, the Minority Bloc, and the Independents as these designations have clear definition and specific roles in the lower house,” he said.
The minority plays the role of the opposition but Suarez’ group rarely challenges the administration while the independents have even filed an impeachment case against Mr. Duterte.
This prompted independents to refer to the official minority as the “cooperative minority” or the “majority’s minority,” reflecting the rancor that started last year.
When the 17th Congress convened in July, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat was second to Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez when votes were cast for speaker on June 25, while Suarez placed third.
Traditionally, the second-placer is usually named minority leader but, with the imprimatur of the majority, those who voted for Suarez and those who abstained refused to install Baguilat.
Baguilat was supported by Lagman, Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, Capiz Rep. Emmanuel Billones and 1-Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta. They called themselves the “Legitimate Eight.”
But Marcoleta later left the group to join the majority so the group began to call themselves the “Magnificent Seven.”