File photo shows Reps. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela), Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis), France Castro (ACT Teachers), Sarah Jane Elago (Kabataan), Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna) and Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers). Katreena Cabico, File
Makabayan solon expects next speaker to respect ‘real’ minority
( - June 28, 2019 - 12:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — The next House speaker should respect and allow the “real” minority of the lower chamber to perform its role as fiscalizer, a member of Makabayan bloc said Friday.

“We hope that whoever becomes speaker will at the minimum respect a real minority in the House and allow time for debates for the real minority to perform its role as fiscalizer, as critic of the administration’s policies,” Rep. Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers) said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.

The Makabayan bloc is composed of lawmakers from activists groups. In the 18th Congress, it will be composed of six legislators: Tinio, Reps. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna), Arlene Brosas (Gabriela), Sarah Jane Elago (Kabataan), and newcomers Ferdinand Gaite (Bayan Muna) and Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muna).

The bloc was part of the House supermajority from July 2016 to September 2017 when it broke away over disagreements with administration policies such as the imposition of martial law in Mindanao, stalled peace talks with communist rebels and Duterte’s stance on Chinese activities in the West Philippine Sea.

When there was a battle for the official minority bloc last year, the Makabayan lawmakers joined the “minority” bloc composed of Liberal Party legislators and members of the so-called “Magnificent 7” led by Rep. Miro Quimbo (Marikina).

In the end, Rep. Danilo Suarez (Quezon)—an ally of outgoing Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—remained the minority leader.

The chamber’s minority bloc is supposed to be a check on the powerful majority.

The duly-recognized minority has guaranteed membership in committees unlike legislators who are considered independent.

‘Political point’

Tinio said that Makabayan made a “political point” when it fielded Bayan Muna’s Zarate as the bloc’s candidate for the already crowded speakership race.

Zarate’s bid for the speakership is a long shot in a chamber dominated by allies of the Duterte administration. 

“We know the real score in terms of numbers. Clearly we’re making here a political point,” Tinio said.

He added: “We’re showing it’s possible to have a candidate for speaker who will be truly independent from the president and will maintain the status of the House as intended in the Constitution as co-equal branch that will serve as check and balance on executive branch.”

Aside from Zarate, those seeking for the House speakership include former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (Davao del Norte), Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig) and Martin Romualdez (Leyte), and Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque), who was endorsed by the administration PDP Laban party. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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