Who wants to be the opposition under the Duterte administration?
The “super majority” coalition in the House of Representatives is apparently not packed enough because one political party–the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) led by former Vice President Jejomar Binay–is planning to join President Rodrigo Duterte’s coalition.
Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, who is from UNA, noted that the decision on whether to join the “super majority” or be the opposition in the House lies with Binay, who had lost the May presidential race to Duterte.
“We [in UNA]just had our meeting last Friday. We are yet to decide on it [joining the administration or otherwise.]We will leave the decision [with]former Vice President Binay. It would be better if he is the one who will decide, rather than divide the party,” Suarez told reporters on Monday.
President Duterte is from PDP-Laban, which already forged a coalition agreement with four political parties and the 47-strong party-list bloc to form the “super majority.”
The four political parties are the Nacionalista Party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the National Union Party and the Lakas-CMD.
Under House rules, the highest vote-getter in the Speakership race gets to seat as the Speaker of the House.
The second highest vote-getter would then end up as the House minority leader.
“I did ask incoming Speaker Alvarez that in the event that UNA coalesces with the majority…if I could I [serve as the]chairman [of]my previous congressional committee on oversight, which was abolished by the previous administration. He said to me, ‘I don’t have problem with that.’ But it would be former Vice President Binay’s call if we will go to the majority.. .to decide what is advantageous to the interest of the party,” Suarez said, referring to Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez of PDP-Laban.
Alvarez is Duterte’s anointed as Speaker of the House.
“If he [Binay] decides that we will go to the minority, then we have another hurdle to overcome, the numbers,” he pointed out.
UNA has at least nine members in the 17th Congress: Suarez, Monsour del Rosario of Makati City (Metro Manila) , Luis Campos of Makati City, Tobias Tiangco of Navotas City (Metro Manila), Gus Tambunting of Parañaque City (Metro Manila), Luisa Cuaresma of Nueva Vizcaya, Magnolia Nadres of Nueva Ecija, Sol Aragones of Laguna and Frederic Siao of Iligan City.
Suarez has repeatedly expressed his willingness to be the House minority leader but his UNA party mate Tiangco has also been candid about his interest of launching a Speakership bid.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman of the Liberal Party (LP) also earlier questioned Suarez’s bid to be the House minority leader, describing Suarez as a looming leader of a subservient minority.
Suarez, however, shrugged off Lagman’s claims and maintained that he did not go to Davao to seek Alvarez’s blessing and be anointed as a cooperative House minority leader.
He said he met with then President-elect Duterte in Davao on invitation extended by Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas of the PDP-Laban.
“I went to Davao for the meeting of various political parties with the President-elect. We were asked if we can support their legislative agenda including: death penalty, lowering the age of criminal liability, federalism,” Suarez argued.
“My presence there has no bearing on being the House minority leader,” he said.
The comebacking Quezon congressman, however, admitted that he is not too keen on opposing the Duterte administration.
“Bakit pa tayo magdedebate kung maganda naman ang agenda? Kung maganda naman ‘yung batas na gustong ipasa, eh di ipasa nang ipasa. Alam naman natin kung ano ang tama at mali eh [Why do we have to debate when the agenda is good? If the proposed pieces of legislation are beneficial to us, then let’s pass [them]one by one. We know what is right and wrong],” Suarez said.