By: Elena Grace Flores
Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) was elected last Wednesday as minority leader by members of the minority bloc. The minority bloc disregarded house tradition and met at the House of Representatives to elect their leader. House tradition dictates that the second placer in the Speakership race is named minority leader. Suarez came in third only after Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat of the Liberal Party for the speakership. Pantakleon Alvarez is now the speaker.
However, majority floor leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas stressed that the rules were clear that the minority leader would be elected by members of the minority, which would be composed by those who did not vote for and abstained from voting for the winning Speaker. Suarez was elected by 22 members of the minority while three abstained: Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, AAMBIS OWA Rep Sharon Garin and Isabela Rep. Ma. Lourdes Aggabao – as the result. Suarez was also the minority leader in the 15th Congress.
Suarez, who belongs to the party of former Vice President Jejomar Binay, vowed to lead a constructive minority bloc that would ensure checks and balances in government.
He may agree on death penalty, being a co-author of the bill to restore capital punishment, but members of the minority bloc would have differing positions on such sensitive issues facing Congress. This would mean that the alliance between Duterte’s majority bloc may be evident with Binay’s minority group – but all decisions must be voted for to avoid being bias. Suarez was confident that his win as minority leader was legitimate.
It was Lagman’s Liberal partymate Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. who got eight votes against Suarez’s seven in the speakership race, making the Ifugao brave the rightful minority leader if traditions were followed. But Roque said House rules should prevail over tradition in the House of Representatives – and the decision is final on Suarez.