“I am the Speaker and I’d like to move on. There are so many things to do,” Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday told reporters in a chance interview during groundbreaking ceremonies at the NLEX Greening Project at the San Fernando toll gate.
Michael Varcas/File
Let’s move on, Gloria Arroyo says amid minority row
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - August 2, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Let’s get down to business and buckle down to work.

“I am the Speaker and I’d like to move on. There are so many things to do,” Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday told reporters in a chance interview during groundbreaking ceremonies at the NLEX Greening Project at the San Fernando toll gate.

She issued the statement as the row over the House minority continued. Arroyo has retained her supporter, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, as the minority leader. The majority has gone along with her decision.

“There’s really not much time. We have to rush all of these things. For me, I’d rather not move back but move forward,” she pointed out, fully aware of the limited 10 months that she has before the 17th Congress ends in June 2019.

The former president is now on her third and last term as House representative.

Arroyo cited as example the crucial bicameral conference committee on the coco levy fund measure that both the Senate and the House of Representatives had passed.

“We hope to be able to finish that, so hopefully it can be ratified on Monday,” she said.

But bills filed before the House would be questioned if its leadership fails to decide who the minority leader is, a veteran lawmaker yesterday warned.

“We are not in a position to give deadlines, but we will lock the floor if this matter is not resolved,” former majority leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said in a mix of English and Filipino at a press briefing yesterday.

Fariñas added that by the time the House, under Arroyo, recognizes who the minority leader is, the matter would be “ripe for adjudication by the Supreme Court (SC).”

Recognizing Suarez as the minority leader would be tantamount to the new leadership admitting that they conspired to overthrow former House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

“In fact, the minority made their members join the majority to oust Alvarez, and then after ousting Alvarez they got their positions back. That’s scandalous, in any language,” Fariñas said.

Fariñas and Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo – who both claim to have the most number in their respective groups to constitute the House minority – are planning to raise the issue of House minority leadership to the SC if Arroyo recognizes Suarez as minority leader.

Quimbo, who was also present at the same press briefing, hinted that House majority members wanted to name the minority leader by a vote of the House.

“They want to make the decision on who the minority leader is (through) a plenary action. They want the majority to decide. How ridiculous is that?” he said.

Quimbo emphasized that “the longer the issue drags on, the worse it is for the institution.”

Currently, three groups claim to be the House minority bloc, each allied with Suarez, Fariñas and Quimbo.

Fariñas and Quimbo previously claimed that Suarez, Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza and 12 other lawmakers should be named as members of the House majority since Suarez himself endorsed the election of Arroyo as Speaker.

Fariñas, along with Alvarez and 12 others, meanwhile, signified his intent to join another group in the minority, where he recognizes Arts, Business and Science party-list Rep. Eugene Michael de Vera as minority leader. – With Ghio Ong, Jess Diaz

DANILO SUAREZ GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
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