UNA, Liberals fight over House minority leadership

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The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) led by former Vice President Jejomar Binay would not yield the House minority bloc leadership to the Liberal Party (LP) just yet.

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Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, a member of UNA, on Wednesday said he still has the numbers to contest the House minority leadership even if the 35-strong LP had decided to join the opposition bloc in the House with former Speaker and Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. running in the Speakership race against Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez of the PDP-Laban-led “super majority” coalition.

Under House rules, the highest vote getter in the Speakership race will sit as the Speaker while the second-highest vote getter will settle for the House minority leader post.

“From Day 1, we have decided that we want to be a part of the minority. I will not compete [for the Speaker post]if I don’t believe I can win this,” Suarez said in a phone interview.

“I will have the winning number. They are from UNA, party-list groups and other sympathetic members of the House,” he added.

Belmonte conceded that the House minority leadership is not reserved for him just yet because his colleagues from the so-called super majority bloc could decide to vote for Suarez, given that Alvarez is already a sure winner for the Speakership.

He was referring to the “super majority” bloc led by PDP-Laban with the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, National Union Party, Lakas-CMD and 47-strong party-list bloc as its partners.

“It [House minority leadership] is not in the bag yet. Congressman Suarez is also interested. The ‘super majority’ can always help [him]but I hope that won’t happen,” Belmonte said in a text message.

Suarez would indeed need more votes from his colleagues in the “super majority” bloc since there are only seven UNA members left in the House ranks: Suarez, Makati City (Metro Manila) Representatives Monsour del Rosario and Luis Campos, Navotas City (Metro Manila) Rep. Tobias Tiangco, Parañaque City (Metro Manila) Rep. Gus Tambunting, Nueva Ecija Rep. Magnolia Nadres and Iligan City Rep. Danilo Siao.

But for Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman of the LP, having the LP as the leader of the House minority bloc will ensure that laws and policies will be the distilled result of productive deliberation, not of orchestration.

“After the so-called ‘super majority’ was forged by the PDP-Laban with the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, National Unity Party, Lakas-NUCD and the party-list coalition, the only principled option for the Liberal Party is to constitute the political opposition to preserve the democratic process. The task of the LP is to stand as the potent, vigilant, credible, reasonable and responsible minority,” Lagman, a former House minority leader like Suarez and Belmonte, said in a statement.

“It will not be an obstructionist opposition but a tempered yet determined fiscalizer. It will neither be co-opted by nor servile to the majority,” he added.

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