Alan: Choice for minority leader depends on rules to be adopted | Malaya Business Insight

Vigilia, W. (2019, July 16). Alan: Choice for minority leader depends on rules to be adopted. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved July 16, 2019 from

Alan: Choice for minority leader depends on rules to be adopted
By WENDELL VIGILIA – July 16, 2019

WHILE recognizing the importance of having a genuine opposition, presumptive speaker Alan Peter Cayetano could not say yet if opposition lawmakers like Reps. Edcel Lagman of Albay and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list will be recognized as minority leader.

“It is essential (in a democracy), that you have a working opposition, a real opposition,” he told dzMM last week after being endorsed by President Duterte as the next speaker.

Cayetano, however, could not say yet if opposition lawmakers will be recognized as the members of the genuine minority bloc, saying everything will depend on the plenary deliberations when Congress opens session on July 22.

“I don’t want to preempt the process,” he said in the same interview. “It really depends on what will happen (on the floor).”

Yesterday, Lagman again urged the next House leadership not to allow another “company union” to constitute the minority bloc in the 18th Congress.

“One of the important reforms in the House is the recognition of a genuine and constructive leader of the opposition,” he said in a statement.

He was taking a dig at former minority leader Danilo Suarez, whose minority bloc had been called a “company union” in the 17th Congress for his closeness to then Speaker Gloria Arroyo.

The practice of co-opting the minority bloc is nothing new since the same thing happened in the Aquino administration, when then San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who was also friendly to the previous administration, led the minority bloc in the 16th Congress.

Traditionally, the candidate for speaker who receives the second largest number of votes becomes the minority leader.

This practice, however, was halted in the 17th Congress when the House leadership amended the rules to allow those who did not vote for the winning candidate for speaker to constitute the minority bloc and elect their own leader.

Lagman, a veteran lawyer and lawmaker who was among the leaders of the opposition bloc in the previous Congress, appealed to Cayetano to respect “the emergence of an authentic minority leader.”

He said a “real and responsible opposition will not only assure a democratic legislative process but will also restore the credibility of the House of Representatives.”

Lagman called out one of Cayetano’s supporters who has “unabashedly and categorically said that a particular Representative who belongs to the opposition is not welcome as minority leader.” He was obviously referring to his fellow Bicolano, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who said last week that the minority does not necessarily have to be the opposition bloc.

“What the Supreme Court said was minority to the majority is not opposition to the administration,” he said. “The philosophy is the minority to the majority. You’re not an opposition to the administration because in the majority, there are (also) opposition congressmen.”

Lagman said such “selective and discriminatory stance augurs the anointment by the supermajority of the next minority leader, a practice reminiscent of the 17thCongress where the leader of the so-called opposition was twice handpicked by the House leadership.”

“The rejection of a possible minority leader and the accommodation of a favored one is installing a ‘company union’ in disguise,” he said.

In a meeting with a group of congressmen from the ruling PDP-Laban last Thursday night in Taguig City, Cayetano said he was prepared to debate with the minority bloc on issues.

“I do not mind debate in fact we’ll be talking to (presumptive majority leader) Martin (Romualdez) over the next few days and whoever comes up to be the minority leader, we want full debates. Ayaw namin na lalapitan namin kayo sasabihin, tumahimik kayo, umupo kayo (We don’t want to approach you and ask you to be silent and just sit down),” he said.

Cayetano said the supermajority “will win the debate because the President’s agenda is better than the opposition “and it’s not because of our numbers.”

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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