• Navotas lawmaker leaves UNA

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    Navotas City (Metro Manila) Rep. Tobias Tiangco has resigned from the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) over differences in connection with the race for the House minority leadership.

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    Tiangco, who was UNA president, left the party on Sunday before the 17th Congress opened its first regular session.

    “Yes, I resigned from UNA,” he confirmed to reporters on Monday in an interview after President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

    When asked why, Tiangco replied, “Because I cannot accept that the members of UNA will allow themselves to be borrowed during the voting, so it was difficult that I was the president and the members will do it and I cannot even do anything about it. So if that’s the way they want to go, I will just be the one to leave.”

    He said the majority had wanted to use UNA supposedly by lending votes in order to beat former House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., a member of the Liberal Party (LP), in the race for minority leader.

    “I was not in favor of that,” Tiangco said.

    Belmonte eventually dropped his bid for the Speakership (the runner-up becomes minority leader) on Saturday and the LP joined the majority.

    During the election of the House Speaker when Congress opened its first regular session on Monday morning before the SONA, Tiangco voted “none of the above” but did not abstain.

    “I will not jump ship to any party, any party, so I will remain an independent,” he told reporters.

    Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez won the Speakership with 251 votes while his opponents Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat and UNA’s Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez had 8 and 7 votes, respectively.

    All those who voted for the House Speaker automatically become part of the majority, while those who voted for the runner-up become the minority.

    Tiangco said Baguilat should have been declared minority leader, but even if it was the case, the numbers can change considering that there were 21 abstentions.

    “Under Section 8 [of House rules], the 21 can at anytime decide to join the majority or the minority. So if two from them say they will join Suarez, that will change the numbers,” the Navotas City congressman explained.

    Tiangco said former Vice President Jejomar Binay, who leads UNA, did not agree with his resignation at first.

    “There’s nothing personal here,” he said.

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