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Marcoleta insists 'Suarez is still minority leader'.

House Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta said on Monday that Quezon 3rd District Rep. Danilo Suarez is still the minority leader because the 'minority belt was never disputed.'

'Mr. Speaker, it is clear as a midday sun, there is no blue corner, there is no red corner, neither yellow corner. The truth is the minority belt was never disputed, the champion is still Rep. Suarez,' Marcoleta said in a privilege speech.

Marcoleta cited Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.'s recognition of Suarez as minority leader in the session last July 30. He then asked presiding Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro to confirm this.

'I, therefore, move that the body confirm the act of the majority leader of recognizing Rep. Suarez as the minority leader,' he said.

Castro then asked if there were any objections, and several lawmakers came forward.

Caloocan City 2nd District Rep. Edgar Erice said, 'there's no business for the majority leader to determine who is the minority leader.' He added that Marcoleta's move seems to prove their suspicion that the majority is favoring Suarez to be the minority leader.

Erice is supporting Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Romero Quimbo's bid for the minority leadership post. Aside from Quimbo and Suarez, ABS Rep. Eugene De Vera is also vying for the post.

Castro then opened the session for interpellation, upon Quimbo's request.

At this point Marcoleta belied Erice's claim, saying his motion was 'not an act of supporting the minority leader (Suarez).'

'If it sounded like we were supporting the minority leader, we're quite sorry for that inconvenience...' he said.

While he agrees that it was the minority bloc's business to thresh out their leadership issue, Marcoleta said the majority group should give assurances that the work of the House would not be compromised.

'While it is the sole business of the minority to thresh out the issue among themselves, I think it is the position of the majority leader that the work of the House of Representatives should not be compromised,' he said.

Meanwhile, Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rodolfo Farinas, the former majority leader, said the House leadership should take a 'definitive action on the issue.'

Farinas' group, which include former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, elected De Vera as their minority leader.

'I recommend that the leadership take a definitive action so that we can... We respect whatever decision the leadership will make, and I hope that they will also respect our prerogative to also take this matter to the proper forum,' said Farinas, who earlier said they would take the House minority leadership issue to the Supreme Court.

Under Rule II Section 8 of the House rules, 'Members who vote for the winning candidate for Speaker shall constitute the Majority in the House.'

Suarez voted for Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, an argument both Quimbo and De Vera's camp have been using against him.

The Monday session was adjournedat 6:20 p.m.without resolving the minority leadership row.

In a separate media briefing after the session, Andaya said the minority members would not resolve the squabble among themselves, the plenary would have to vote on the issue probably on Tuesday.

'If they cannot come to terms, lahat ng mga side sa minority ...then the Plenary, not the Majority, but the plenary - everyone (would vote on it),' he said.

Andaya also said he would stand by the legality of the conduct of committee hearings while the minority row is still being resolved. He said there is no rule explicitly stating that a committee hearing or session is not valid if the minority members are not present.

'It's just the representation. It's just assuming that there's [a] minority member present [...] Eh paano kung ayaw niya mag-attend, di ba? It can be as simple as they will not attend, eh di wala ng hearing (What if they don't want to attend the hearing?). That's not the case,' he said.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Aug 6, 2018
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