House minority decimated
This has decimated the formerly 28-member House minority bloc led by Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., who himself has joined the Velasco-led majority.
House minority decimated
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The ascent of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has further strengthened the super majority in the House of Representatives, with 284 of the 301-member chamber now belonging to the administration coalition led by President Duterte’s PDP-Laban party.

This has decimated the formerly 28-member House minority bloc led by Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., who himself has joined the Velasco-led majority.

Yesterday, House insiders told The STAR that Duterte’s ally, former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte, “showed his true colors” by joining the three independent minority blocs.

Alvarez was ousted as speaker in July 2018 and replaced by former president-turned-Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in what many reports said was engineered by the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. The President has since apologized to Alvarez over the matter.

Speaking to The STAR, Alvarez denied a falling out with the Chief Executive, despite reports he had repeatedly attacked Duterte in his local radio station, earning the ire of the Duterte family – especially the mayor.

Some House insiders attributed the tumultuous downfall of ousted speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to Alvarez’s categorical endorsement of his speakership, going against the groove of the term-sharing deal with Velasco which was brokered by the President.

What’s sure at this point is that the House minority has at least 16 members – seven from the opposition Liberal Party; the six perennial opposition party-list representatives of the Makabayan bloc; and three from the Villar-led Nacionalista Party (NP) that used to support Cayetano.

With Abante’s flight from the minority bloc, there are still a number of party-list representatives left in the group, including Abang-Lingkod Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano whom party stalwarts said would take over as minority leader.

Meanwhile, the breakdown of the supermajority coalition consists of: 53 from Duterte’s ruling party; 53 from the Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. led by 1Pacman Rep. Mikee Romero; 47 from NP; 45 from the National Unity Party; 41 from Nationalist People’s Coalition; 21 from Lakas-CMD; 12 from localized parties like Sara’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago in the Davao region; 11 administration-allied members of the opposition LP, and one independent congressman.

Sources said House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez’s role was crucial in consolidating the support for the new leadership in the House, with Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. also backing the new Speaker.

Velasco has since said the process of healing is underway.

Bulacan Rep. Florida Robes said she is delighted that the leadership impasse in the House was resolved peacefully and amicably.

“I believe that Speaker Velasco and Romualdez are both righteous and committed to steer the House of Representatives to new heights to become a more effective and responsive institution to serve the Filipino people especially in these trying times,” she said.

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