Suarez not threatened by LP possibly joining opposition bloc
MANILA, Philippines – House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said he is not threatened by the prospect of Liberal Party (LP) congressmen cutting their ties with President Rodrigo Duterte's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and joining the independent opposition bloc.
"May rules ang House eh (The House has rules). Before you can move from one posture to another, you need the approval of the minority and the majority. They are with the supermajority, 'di ba (right)?" said Suarez in a press conference on Wednesday, March 1.
The day before, LP stalwarts said their congressmen will only decide whether or not to continue with their coalition agreement with PDP-Laban after the House votes on the controversial death penalty bill. (READ: Aquino's 'guidance' to LP: 'It's time to speak up')
LP senators already decided to join the minority after they were stripped of prime posts in the Senate. Senator Leila de Lima, the fiercest critic of the President, was also arrested due to multiple drug charges.
As of now, there are 27 LP congressmen allied with the majority, with another 5 in the independent opposition bloc. If all LP lawmakers join forces in one bloc, Suarez's 18-member minority group will be outnumbered.
The independent opposition bloc was formed since LP member and Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman alleged that a minority under Suarez's leadership will be "subservient" to the majority.
Suarez, while minority leader, is also co-author of a number of administration bills, including the reimposition of the death penalty. (READ: Suarez wants death penalty under Duterte admin only)
With LP congressmen outnumbering Suarez's bloc, can the former ruling party become the duly recognized minority of the House?
"You want to know if they have enough numbers, can they be in the minority? No. You have to change the Speaker," said Suarez, adding that no LP member has expressed his or her intent to join his bloc.
Lawyer and Kabayan Representative Harry Roque agreed with the Minority Leader.
"Kasi sa rules, dapat tanggapin sila ng minority. Hindi sapat na idedeklara na minority sila (Because in the rules, the minority must accept them. It's not enough for them to declare that they are the minority). They have to put it in writing and there has to be acceptance on the part of the minority," said Roque.
According to the Rules of the House of Representatives, a congressman may transfer from the majority to the minority, or vice versa, at any time, provided that:
- The concerned Member submits a written request to transfer to the Majority or Minority, through the Majority or Minority Leaders
- The Majority or Minority, as the case may be, accepts the concerned Member in writing
- The Speaker shall be furnished by the Majority or the Minority Leaders, as the case may be, copy of the acceptance in writing of the concerned Member.