MANILA- The petition challenging the minority leadership of Quezon Representative Danilo Suarez has been raffled to most senior Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Jose Reyes, Jr.
The petition was tackled during Tuesday’s regular en banc session but was called again for further study and deliberations.
It was filed by former Speaker Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, former Majority Leader Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, and Representatives Eugene Michael De Vera, Rodolfo Albano III, Juan Pablo Bondoc, Manuel Monsour Del Rosario III, Ruwell Peter Gonzaga, Roger Mercado, Mauyag Papandaya, Lucy Torres-Gomez, Arnel Ty, and Reynaldo Umali.
In a 44-page petition filed on Aug. 30, the minority congressmen argued that Suarez cannot be the minority leader of the current Congress because he was “the first to sign” the manifesto of support for the installation of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as House Speaker.
Arroyo replaced Alvarez last July 23 in a nationally televised power tussle that eclipsed President Rodrigo Duterte's third State of the Nation Address.
The petition argued that De Vera should have assumed the top minority post because he was Deputy Minority Leader during Alvarez’s tenure, while all petitioner-congressmen should be recognized as the “duly constituted” minority.
“In voting for respondent GMA (Arroyo) as the winning candidate for Speaker of the HOR, respondent Suarez abandoned ipso facto his membership in the minority, thus making the most senior member of the minority, then Deputy Minority Leader petitioner De Vera ipso facto acting Minority Leader.
“The co-petitioners of [De Vera] had faithfully followed the rules of the HOR in transferring to the duly constituted minority headed by him as the acting Minority Leader, and pursuant to the same rules, conducted an election to elect him as the Minority Leader,” the petition read.
The lawmakers sought the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order and status quo ante order to prevent Suarez from continuing to function as House Minority Leader.