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‘Minority Leader’ Eugene de Vera? House rules silent on leadership succession

Mara Cepeda
‘Minority Leader’ Eugene de Vera? House rules silent on leadership succession
Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman says any rule on the succession of power 'must be explicit'

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition lawmakers belonging to the Liberal Party (LP)-Magnificent 7-Makabayan alliance that is laying claim over the minority leadership said Arts, Business, and Science Professionals Representative Eugene de Vera cannot be the acting minority leader.

On Tuesday, July 31, Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman and Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said it was wrong for Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas to argue De Vera is the acting minority leader. (READ: Fariñas ‘going to SC’ if Suarez stays as House minority leader

The day before, Fariñas insisted De Vera holds the position because he is the only legislator from the bloc once led by Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo Suarez who did not vote for Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Speaker. Suarez, an ally of Arroyo, was the minority leader under ousted speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Fariñas said he and 12 lawmakers in the Alvarez bloc already applied to be part of the minority bloc under De Vera, who was Suarez’s senior deputy. But Villarin and Lagman disputed this. (READ: LP, Makabayan lawmakers join forces in bid for House minority)


 

“Cong Fariñas argued that Rep Suarez can’t be minority for abandoning minority to connive [with] majority to oust Alvarez. He then concluded that Rep De Vera, who is senior deputy minority, takes over. Alas, he forgot that there is no rule on succession for minority leader!” Villarin said in a tweet.

Lagman added that any rule on succession “must be explicit.”

“In the rules of the House, there is no provision on the succession of the majority leadership and the minority leadership,” he said. 

‘Pitiful Congress’

In the same breath, Lagman also slammed the Suarez bloc for insisting they are still the minority bloc.

He once again referred to the House rules and a Supreme Court ruling that said all lawmakers who voted for the winning candidate for Speaker will constitute the majority, while those who did not will be part of the minority. 

“The group of Suarez maintains there should be a [difference] between [the constitution] at the start of the Congress and a change in leadership subsequent to that original constitution. There is no difference at all with respect to the effect of a leadership change on the constituency of the majority and the minority,” said Lagman. 

“Even the Supreme Court, in Baguilat vs Alvarez, made this observation – that a leadership change, an election of a Speaker, would in fact impact the constituency of the majority and the minority,” he added. 

Should Suarez be retained as minority leader, Lagman said even future Congresses would be affected. 

“This will always be used as a precedent, and then the majority can always take advantage of their ascendancy by instituting their own minority. So kawawa naman mga susunod na Congress (the next Congresses will be pitiful) if we allow this charade to perpetuate itself,” said Lagman.

The debates over the minority leadership will continue at 4 pm on Tuesday. – Rappler.com

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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.