Quimbo, Suarez, or Fariñas? The battle for the House minority

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2018 01:54 AM | Updated as of Jul 27 2018 07:26 AM

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MANILA - The political slugfest at the House of Representatives is not over, as several groups are now fighting over recognition as the minority bloc.

But if House rules and recent jurisprudence are to be followed, those who abstained during the change of House speakership can lay claim to the minority leadership, a lawmaker said.

"What determines - are you going to be part of the majority or the minority - is how you vote on the speakership," Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Romero "Miro" Quimbo told Thursday "Bandila sa DZMM." 

Quimbo was chosen Wednesday as the new minority leader by Liberal Party lawmakers who abstained from voting for Pampanga 2nd District. Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as House Speaker.

Arroyo replaced Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez following a leadership row at the lower chamber during President Rodrigo Duterte's third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Some 184 lawmakers, including Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez who currently serves as the House Minority Leader, voted for Arroyo.

"We are hoping...everybody will follow the rules," Quimbo said.

Under Rule II, Section 8 of the Rules of the House Representatives, "members who vote for the winning candidate for Speaker shall constitute the Majority in the House."

A July 2017 Supreme Court decision also states that "(a) all those who vote for the winning Speaker shall belong to the Majority and those who vote for the other candidates shall belong to the Minority; (b) those who abstain from voting shall likewise be considered part of the Minority; and (c) the Minority Leader shall be elected by the members of the Minority."

By this alone, Quimbo said they are the duly-constituted minority bloc in the lower chamber.

Suarez has signified his intent to maintain his status as minority leader despite voting for Arroyo.

Meanwhile, the camp of Alvarez wants to field Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, who currently serves as House majority leader, for the minority leadership.

"Kahit anong pagtingin natin diyan, nakakahiya ang Kongreso kung ating oposisyon, ating minority ay kakampi ng mayorya," Quimbo said.

Alvarez is the secretary general of the President Rodrigo Duterte's ruling political party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Arroyo is also a member of PDP-Laban.

Quimbo said they are asserting their right for the minority leadership only to serve as the Filipino people's checks and balances in the lower chamber.

"Kailangan na inilalabas naming batas ay tama, angkop, at kinakailangan ng taong-bayan," he said.

"Importante nasa minority ay independent, competent, at the same time, hindi alyado sa majority. Otherwise, bantay-salakay," he added.