MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party (LP) lawmakers laying claim over the House of Representatives’ minority teamed up with the left-leaning legislators from the Makabayan bloc in a bid to increase their numbers.
On Monday, July 30, Marikina 2nd District Representative Miro Quimbo wrote to Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, informing her that he and 14 lawmakers held a “continuing organization meeting,” where Quimbo was elected as minority leader:
- Cavite 1st District Representative Francis Gerald Abaya
- Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao
- Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr
- Quezon City 3rd District Representative Jorge Banal
- Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte
- Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Gabriel Bordado Jr
- Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas
- Northern Samar 1st District Representative Raul Daza
- Pangasinan 4th District Representative Christopher de Venecia
- Caloocan City 2nd District Representative Edgar Erice
- Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman
- Negros Oriental 1st District Representative Jocelyn Limkaichong
- ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio
- Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate
Of the listed 15 lawmakers, 12 are from the LP while 3 are from Makabayan – Brosas, Tinio, and Zarate.
In the same letter, Quimbo told Arroyo that 7 more legislators have successfully applied to join the minority bloc:
- Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano
- Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao
- ACT Teachers Representative France Castro
- Gabriela Representative Emmi de Jesus
- Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago
- Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez Sato
- Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin
Sato is an LP member, while Casilao, Castro, De Jesus, and Elago are all part of Makabayan. Alejano and Villarin, meanwhile are members of the so-called “Magnificent 7” independent minority bloc, whose other 5 members are part of the LP.
With this letter, the LP lawmakers are saying they now have 22 members in their bloc together with Makabayan.
The battle for power has now shifted to the minority after the ouster of Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez and the subsequent election of Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Speaker.
Under the House rules, any legislator who did not vote in favor of the winning candidate for Speaker will automatically be part of the minority. Minority lawmakers would then hold a separate election to name their leader.
Other legislators who wish to join the minority bloc have to write a letter to the duly elected minority leader, who will then decide whether or not to accept the application. If rejected, a legislator would end up being part of the independent minority bloc.
Aside from the LP, however, the blocs of Alvarez and Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo Suarez, the minority leader under Alvarez, are vying for the minority as well.
The House minority bloc is coveted by lawmakers because the duly recognized minority legislators are given membership slots in all committees. The slots are few, but they give the minority the power to vote during committee hearings. – Rappler.com