Photo shows House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Bienvenido "Benny" Abante Jr. during the opening of the 18th Congress Monday.
Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho
Manila’s Benny Abante chosen as House minority leader
(Philstar.com) - July 23, 2019 - 4:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — Rep. Bienvenido “Benny” Abante Jr. (Manila) has been elected as the leader of the House of Representatives’ minority bloc Tuesday.

Legislators belonging to the minority bloc chose Abante as their leader in a seconds-long election with no objection. His election came a day after the House elected Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros) as speaker.

Abante and Cayetano vied for the speakership position Monday. The lawmaker from Manila got 28 votes against Cayetano’s 266 votes.

Abante, a pastor, said he wants his colleagues in the minority to “objectively, critically collaborate” with the House majority and the current administration.

“I told my colleagues that they’re free to express whatever their advocacy is. They’re free, at liberty to stand and whatever opposition, whatever line of thought they have in Congress,” Abante said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel hours before his election.

He added: “The only thing is that we have to be united in critically collaborating together with the administration and the majority. I would want a minority that is not just for the purpose of opposing everything.”

Among those who are members of the minority bloc are lawmakers from the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party, Makabayan bloc and the party-list coalition.

The lower chamber’s minority bloc is supposed to be a check on the powerful majority and has guaranteed membership in committees unlike legislators who are considered independent.

Abante’s minority leadership has already been criticized by Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay), who decided to “remain with the independent opposition.”

“Both candidates for speaker, including the projected runner-up and presumptive minority leader, are the identical sides of the same supermajority coin,” Lagman said in a statement Monday.

18TH CONGRESS BENNY ABANTE JR. MINORITY BLOC
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