DAVAO del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez was overwhelmingly elected as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives on Monday, ensuring support for the legislative agenda of the Duterte administration.
Alvarez got 251 votes after the administration party, PDP-Laban, inked coalition agreements with the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, National Unity Party, Liberal Party (LP) and the 47-strong party-list bloc.
The bigger story, however, was the unexpected victory of Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat in the race for House Minority Leader with eight votes, even after his party, the LP, joined the PDP-Laban-led “Super Majority” bloc.
It was a frustrating day for Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez of the United Nationalist Alliance, who was the early frontrunner in the House Minority Leader post. He fell one vote short of Baguilat’s eight votes.
This was because 21 lawmakers abstained from voting, while Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco’s vote was registered as a “no” vote. Tiangco left UNA, the party of former Vice President Jejomar Binay who lost the presidential race.
Baguilat admitted that his hold on the Minority Leader post was tenuous as the abstaining lawmakers could eventually choose Suarez.
He warned of a subservient minority under the Quezon congressman.
“So I figured that these people will abstain first and then vote later [for Suarez]. They (Majority bloc) really wanted a co-opted Minority,” Baguilat said.
“As far as I am concerned and as per the rules, we are the Minority Leader. If they say it is not valid, then what is the mechanism for those who abstained then? None. We will look at the rules,” he added.
The acting House Majority Leader, Rodolfo Fariñas, said a cordial environment in the House was necessary so that the legislative agenda of the administration could gain ground.