Alvarez an independent House member

(The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2020 - 12:00am

On Oct. 19, 2020, The Philippine STAR published an article titled “House minority decimated,” written by Delon Porcalla. Given the title stressing the “House minority...” and the content referring to Rep. Alvarez, the tenor is that he supposedly joined the “House minority.” The article stated that:  “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...

“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.”

The claim that Rep. Alvarez joined the minority, or one of the three minority blocs, is not true. First of all, he is not part of the minority and, consequently, cannot be part of any minority bloc.

The Rules of the 18th Congress (see Rule II, Sec. 8), House of Representatives, clearly indicates that the members of the Majority are those who voted for the candidate for Speakership who won. Consequently, those who voted for a candidate for the Speakership who lost become part of the Minority.

In the case of Rep. Alvarez, he abstained from voting for or against now Speaker of the House Lord Allan Velasco and decided to be non-aligned. Right from the very beginning of the 18th Congress, Rep. Alvarez has been vocal about his concern regarding a term-sharing agreement and its effect of dividing the House of Representatives and causing unnecessary obstacles in the immediate passage of important legislative items. The events that unfolded last week, as well as the months that led to that standoff, have shown that his concern was much warranted.

As for his membership, be it majority, minority or otherwise, the last paragraph of Rule II., Sec. 8 categorizes members who opted for a course of action resulting into membership categorized as “independent:”

“Members who choose not to align themselves with the Majority or the Minority shall be considered as independent members of the House. They may, however, choose to join the Majority or Minority upon written request to and approval thereof by the Majority or Minority, as the case may be.”

In other words, Rep. Alvarez is an independent member of the House of Representatives, contrary to the claim of the article that The STAR published.

What is troubling here is the fact that this information could have easily been verified by simply contacting the Secretary-General’s office of the House of Representatives, communicating with Rep. Alvarez’s office, or by merely referring to the Rules of the 18th Congress which is available online for anyone to access. And yet The STAR relied on “insiders” without even verifying the information he received.

It is therefore demanded that said article be taken down immediately and that an apology should be issued by The STAR. Further, Rep. Alvarez’s statement regarding this issue should be published as well. Finally, he is constrained to file the appropriate legal action against Mr. Porcalla and those involved in the publication of the libelous article. – Atty. Vincent Noel A. Aureus, Chief of Staff, Office of Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez

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