• ‘Legitimate 8’ minority pushes for voting rights


    The so-called “Legitimate 8”—the lawmakers who dubbed themselves such after being excluded from the House minority bloc—continues to insist on its minority status and is seeking membership, meaning voting rights, in various committees.

    Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, in a letter to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, said he, Teodoro Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao, Raul Daza of Northern Samar, Edgar Erice of Caloocan City (Metro Manila), Tomasito Villarin of Akbayan party-list, Rodante Marcoleta of 1-Sagip party-list, Emmanuel Billones of Capiz and Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list are minority members pursuant to the Rules of the House and accepted tradition.

    The eight lawmakers voted for Baguilat in the Speakership race. Baguilat got more votes than Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, 8 to 7.

    In his letter, Lagman attached the minimum committee preferences of the “Legitimate 8” members whom Lagman said are not only members of the minority but also members of the House of Representatives entitled to committee memberships.

    “We are not just members of the minority. We are members of the House of Representatives and so we are entitled to committee memberships. They can’t deprive us of that. We are the committed and informed minority,” he said in a news conference.

    “We, the ‘Legitimate 8,’ will provide the check and balance here in Congress,” Erice said.

    The committees preferred by Baguilat are Agrarian Reform, National Cultural Communities, Natural Resources, Appropriations and Human Rights.

    Lagman wants to be a member of the committees on Appropriation, Ways and Means, Justice, Labor and Employment and Agrarian Reform.

    Daza wants to be part of the committees on Accounts, Agrarian Reform, Agriculture and Food, Appropriations and Agriculture and Fisheries Resources.

    Erice wants voting rights in the committees on Appropriations, Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, Transportation, Public Order and Safety and Games and Amusements.

    Villarin seeks membership in the committees on Agriculture and Food, Local Government, Natural Resources, Labor and Employment and Health, while Billones wants the committees on Public Works and Highways, Agriculture, Games and Amusements, Tourism and Social Services.

    Marcoleta, a lawyer, said he wants to be a member of the committees on Justice, Transportation, Energy, Public Information and Constitutional Amendments, while former soldier Alejano is pushing for voting rights in the committees on National Defense and Security, Public Order and Safety, Veterans Affairs and Welfare, Good Government and Public Accountability and Higher and Technical Education.

    Lagman wrote the letter on behalf of Baguilat who is on official leave to attend the Asean Parliamentarians’ Human Rights Conference in Timor Leste.

    House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas earlier named a handful of administration lawmakers as chairmen of powerful committees.

    San Juan City (Metro Manila) Rep. Ronaldo Zamora of PDP-Laban was named the head of the House contingent to the Commission on Appointments, while Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles of the National Unity Party (NUP) was appointed chairman of the Committee on Appropriations.

    Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez of NUP was named chairman of the Committee on Legislative Franchises, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (PDP-Laban) as chairman of the Committee on Energy and Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez (PDP-Laban) as chairman of the Tourism committee.

    Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop of NUP was earlier named head of the Committee on Public Order, while Batangas Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain of the Nacionalista Party was appointed chairman of the Committee on Accounts.


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