Bid to wrest minority leadership from Suarez junked
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the petition filed by a group of lawmakers seeking its intervention in determining who should comprise the “authentic minority” bloc in the House of Representatives.
In a decision written by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, the high court dismissed the petition for mandamus filed by lawmakers Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay), Teddy Baguilat (Ifugao), Raul Daza (Northern Samar), Edgar Erice (Caloocan), Emmanuel Billones (Capiz), Tom Villarin (Akbayan partylist) and Gary Alejano (Magdalo party-list).
“The Court, per Bernabe, J. and voting unanimously, dismissed the petition for mandamus for the reason that petitioners were not entitled to the reliefs sought; however, the Court emphasizes that the dismissal of this petition is without prejudice to any other controversy involving the internal rules of the House of the Representatives presented in a proper case seeking judicial review,” the high court said.
The petition urged the high court to compel the respondents to recognize Baguilat as the runner-up to Alvarez in the speakership race last year.
Baguilat got eight votes against Rep. Danilo Suarez’s seven, thus, giving him the minority leadership.
The petitioners insisted that Baguilat was entitled to the long unbroken tradition of the House of Representatives where the second placer to the speakership vote becomes the recognized minority leader.
However, petitioners said two days after the voting, the congressmen who voted for Suarez as Speaker and those who abstained convened to elect Suarez as the minority leader.
Named respondents were Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez III, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and Suarez, who had been “elected” the minority leader.
In response to the high court’s decision, Baguilat told reporters that the high court seemed to be giving Congress “a wide latitude to violate its own rules.”
“That’s what they did in dismissing our petition. That’s what they also did in dismissing the petition for mandamus for Congress to convene jointly on martial law. It is reneging on its task as a court of last resort in ensuring that our rules and laws are not violated by the executive and legislative chambers,” he added./rga
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