Rep. Gloria Arroyo (Pampanga) officially took over the House leadership from Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez (Davao del Norte) shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte left the session hall after delivering his third State of the Nation Address Monday, July 23, 2018.
The STAR/KJ Rosales
Andaya elected majority leader as House fails to settle issues on minority bloc
Audrey Morallo ( - July 30, 2018 - 8:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — Rep. Rolando Andaya (Camarines Sur) on Monday was elected the majority leader as the House failed to settle the issue on the real minority bloc in the chamber.

With the impasse, the uncertainty over the leadership of the House minority still remains a week after the election of Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Pampanga) to the speaker's podium.

The reshuffle in the House leadership was precipitated by the ouster last week of Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez (Davao Del Norte) in a political showdown that played out on national television and before dignitaries in attendance to listen to President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address.

Andaya was elected as the new majority leader, replacing Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas (Ilocos Norte) who was a close ally of Alvarez.

Andaya is a known Arroyo supporter. He served as her budget secretary when she was the president from 2001 to 2010.

Before Andaya's election, he and Rep. Fredenil Castro (Capiz) were the top candidate's for the position.

Rep. Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip party-list) meanwhile was elected as chairman of the Committee on Rules while Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez (Leyte) was chosen to lead the Committee on Accounts.

The Committee on Rules handles the chamber's calendar and other administrative matters.

The real minority in the House meanwhile still remains up in the air after three groups of lawmakers expressed that they would like to be recognized as the chamber's minority.

Rep. Romero Quimbo (Marikina) said that his group of lawmakers was the real minority and stressed that he is ready to lead the bloc in functioning as the "scalpel" in the chamber.

Quimbo argued that Rep. Danilo Suarez (Quezon) and every member of the past minority bloc who supported Arroyo's bid for the speakership became part of the majority.

This was shared by former majority leader Fariñas who argued that Suarez "abandoned" his post as minority leader when he voted for Arroyo to become the next House leader.

"Do not allow Danny Suarez to the minority. He crossed the line. He should stay there," Fariñas said, warning that he would elevate the matter to the Supreme Court if the leadership would insist on having the Quezon lawmaker as the minority leader.

Rep. Alfredo Garbin (Ako Bicol party-list) and Rep. Lito Atienza (Buhay party-list) meanwhile stressed that Suarez was still the minority leader.

Garbin said that the rules Quimbo was citing could only be applied during the initial organization of the House and should not apply to the succeeding election of speakers.

"It did not change and will not change the membership status of every member irregardless if you voted for the winning speaker or did not participate," he said.

Quimbo said that this logic would lead to "the oppression and tyranny of the majority."

The Marikina lawmaker appealed to the new leadership: "Let's start on the right foot. It was a bloody exercise. We are appealing that we start with the right step, and that step is following our rules."

Atienza meanwhile said that Quimbo "dumbfounds all of us with his misinterpretation of the rules."

He said that Quimbo should apply to be a member of their group and challenge the leadership of Suarez instead.

He accused Quimbo and his group of being hungry for position and underscored that there was no vacancy in the leadership of the minority.

Quimbo retorted, "Leadership is earned, but I have to say that leadership is also never bought."

Fariñas meanwhile argued that the real minority leader was Rep. Eugene De Vera (ABS party-list) as he was the only part of its leadership who did not support Arroyo.

The former majority leader said that Quimbo should apply with De Vera to be part of the minority.

He said that the House should not recognize Suarez and his colleagues who voted for Arroyo as speaker.

"It will be a mockery and malady," he said.

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