Danilo Suarez elected as House minority leader

Mara Cepeda
(UPDATED) Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo Suarez gets 22 votes, while 3 abstain in the House minority bloc's elections

NEW MINORITY LEADER. Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo Suarez (center) is the new leader of the House minority bloc following elections on July 27, 2016. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After two days of uncertainty, Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo Suarez has been elected as House minority leader.

Twenty-five out of the 39 representatives considered as members of the minority bloc met on Wednesday, July 27, for the elections. They include Suarez, the 7 representatives who voted for him as speaker during the first session day, and 20 lawmakers who abstained from voting for the speakership.

Suarez, who was the sole nominee for minority leader, got 22 votes on Wednesday, while 3 abstained.

He plans to deliver his counter to President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address during the sesion on August 1.

Voted Suarez Abstained

1. Danilo Suarez, Quezon 3rd District

2. Lito Atienza, Buhay

3. Luis Campos, Makati 2nd District

4. Monsour del Rosario, Makati 1st District

5. Delphine Lee, AGRI

6. Harry Roque, Kabayan

7. Orestes Salon, AGRI

8. Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez, ALONA

9. Harlin Abayon, AANGAT TAYO

10. Arlene Arcillas, Laguna 1st District

11. Amanda Bagatsing, Manila 5th Distric

12. John Bertiz, ACTS-OFW

13. Anthony Bravo, COOP-NATCCO

14. Arnel Cerafica, Taguig City-Pateros 1st District

15. Richard Eusebio, Pasig City

16. Julieta Cortuna, A TEACHER

17. Eugene de Vera, ABS

18. Abigail Ferriol-Pascual, KALINGA

19. Alfredo Garbin Jr, AKO Bicol

20. Joseph Bernos, Abra

21. Marlyn Alonte-Naguiat, Biñan City

22. Cecillia Chavez, BUTIL

 

1. Ma Lourdes Aggabao, Isabela 4th District

2. Rodel Batocabe, AKO Bicol

3. Sharon Garin, AAMBIS-OWA

Suarez’s election came after a 3-hour debate on Tuesday evening, July 26, on whether Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr should already be considered minority leader. (READ: Congressman Baguilat: I am the House minority leader)

Suarez and Baguilat vied for the speakership, which Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez won with 251 votesBaguilat voted for himself, getting 8 votes. Suarez, who voted for Alvarez, only got 7 votes. 

Traditionally, the runner-up for speaker becomes House minority leader.

But House Majority Floor Leader Rudy Fariñas argued that House rules mandate that the minority bloc chooses its leader in separate elections.

He cited Section 8, Rule 2 of the 16th Congress rules adopted by the 17th Congress on Monday: “Members who vote for the winning candidate for Speaker shall constitute the Majority in the House and they shall elect from among themselves the Majority Leader… The Minority Leader shall be elected by the Members of the Minority and can be changed, at any time, by a majority vote of all the Minority members.”

Lagman also protested Suarez’s claim that he is a member of the minority because he voted for the winning candidate for speaker. He added that House rules mandate that the 20 lawmakers who abstained are part of the independent minority bloc, not the minority. 

Section 8, Rule 2 states: “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 the minority, as the case may be.”

But for Majority Floor Leader Fariñas, the rule above can only be applied after the minority leader has been elected. Thus, the 20 lawmakers who abstained are part of the minority because they did not vote for Alvarez.

On Wednesday, Suarez also explained before the elections that he only voted for Alvarez for speaker because it is House tradition for candidates not to vote for themselves.

But as soon as session ended on Monday, he wrote a letter to the House Speaker manifesting that he wants to join the minority.

No one among those who voted for Baguilat participated in the elections on Wednesday. 

These lawmakers, who refer to themselves as the “legitimate and authentic minority,” called for a press conference after the minority leadership elections to protest Suarez’s victory. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.