In this July 23, 2018 photo, Philippine House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, left, speaks during the Third regular session of the 17th Congress in Quezon city, metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Monday, July 23, 2018. The Philippine House of Representatives has failed to ratify as expected a new autonomy deal that many hope will peacefully settle one of Asia's longest-raging Muslim separatist rebellions and help prevent a repeat of a disastrous Islamic State group-linked attack in the country's south.
AP/Aaron Favila, File
'Majority's tyranny of numbers': House recognizes Arroyo-voting Suarez as minority leader
Audrey Morallo (Philstar.com) - August 6, 2018 - 4:34pm

MANILA, Philippines — The plenary of the House of Representatives on Tuesday recognized Rep. Danilo Suarez, who voted for Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as the chamber's minority leader, a move described by one lawmaker as the majority's "tyranny of numbers."

Suarez, Rep. Romero Quimbo (Marikina) and Rep. Eugene De Vera (ABS party-list) are leading their own factions and seeking to be recognized as the chamber's minority leader.

Suarez and more than a dozen of his colleagues in the minority group under former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez supported and voted for Arroyo to become the House speaker two weeks ago.

Despite voting for Arroyo, Suarez and his supporters had insisted that he remained the minority leader as there was no vacancy in the position.

Through voice voting on Tuesday, the plenary approved the motion tabled by Majority Floor Leader Rep. Rolando Andaya (1st District, Camarines Sur) to "finally resolve" the issue on the chamber's minority leader.

Lawmakers who come from the two other factions vying for recognition as the minority in the chamber slammed the move, with Rep. Ariel Casilao (Anak Pawis party-list) calling it the majority's "tyranny of numbers."

"This is the first time in the history of Congress that its plenary decided who is the minority leader," Casilao said.

Quimbo, one of the three seeking recognition as the minority floor leader, said that they would take the necessary "recourse" to settle the issue and bring order to the chamber, an indication that they will likely question the move before the High Court.

"What we witnessed today not only created a legal question but in fact cemented it. It is regrettable," Quimbo said, adding that they continue to manifest their opposition to the move.

He described the plenary's recognition of Suarez as "illegal, not in due course and in direct violation fo the Supreme Court decision."

De Vera also opposed the recognition and said that this was in violation of the vow of lawmakers to faithfully observe House rules.

Former Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, who supports De Vera, also opposed the move and maintained his position that Suarez was not the minority leader.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay), meanwhile, abstained, saying that the plenary does not have the right to approve and disapprove the selection of the minority floor leader.

"Under our rules, the minority leader should be voted upon by members of the minority. It is never subject to the approval or disapproval of the plenary," Lagman said.

Rep. Gabriel Bordado (3rd District, Camarines Sur) also assailed the plenary's recognition of Suarez and stressed that Quimbo had presented the best arguments in support of his position.

"No amount of Olympic-setting verbal gymnastics can obliterate this very clear pronouncement not just from Quimbo but from the Supreme Court itself," Bordado said after the vote.

Suarez is a known supporter of Arroyo and was the first to sign the manifesto supporting her candidature as speaker on July 23 which toppled Alvarez in a House dramatic political battle.

DANILO SUAREZ EUGENE DE VERA HOUSE MINORITY ROMERO QUIMBO
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