Bitter 8

I still can't imagine why the group of Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat continues to insist they are the legitimate minority group in the House of Representatives.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a member of the Baguilat group, composed mostly of Liberal Party (LP) members, even wrote Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez citing the basis on why they should be considered the legitimate minority with Baguilat recognized as the legitimate Minoroty Leader.

Citing accepted tradition of the House, Lagman said Baguilat should be acknowledged as the Minority Leader after he "garnered more votes than Rep. Danilo E. Suarez in the contest for House Speaker," which Alvarez overwhelmingly won.

Citing the rules of the House, Lagman insists "Suarez disqualified himself from aspiring for the position of Minority Leader because he voted" for Alvarez as Speaker, "and consequently, he is considered to belong to the Majority pursuant to first paragraph of Section 8 of Rule II of the Rules of the House of Representatives."

Funny thing is Lagman is applying anything which would suit them.

Prior to the election for the House Speakership Monday last week, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza rose on the floor to clarify the manner by which the Minority Leader should be elected.

And Lagman was being true to himself when he said that House tradition has it that whoever places second in the Speakership race automatically bags the Minority post. But that was tradition and not necessarily the rule. In fact, senior members of the House say that they adopted that tradition since normally there would be only two vying for the Speakership, one coming from the majority, and the other coming from the opposition, with the top House post already a settled issue even before the lawmakers cast their votes, hence, the fight for the minority post also considered to be concluded as no other solon would contest for Minority Leadership.

It was only in 2007 that there were three lawmakers who vied for the Speakership post, two coming from the majority - Rep. Jose de Venecia of Pangasinan, Pablo Garcia of Cebu and Ronaldo Zamora of San Juan.

But during the election, the majority made it clear that de Venecia and Garcia are fighting only for the top post thus whoever placed second would not contest for the minority post. De Venecia and Zamora eventually ended as Speaker and Minority Leader then.

In 2013, there also three that contested the Speakership - Zamora and Rep. Sonny Belmonte of Quezon City and Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte. But right from the start, it was very clear Zamora and Romualdez would only be contesting the Minority Leadership as there was no way they could unseat Belmonte who was seeking his second term as Speaker.

And that was when the allegation of the Administration pushing for a company union in the House of Representatives was first exposed as this writer personally interviewed a supporter of Zamora who said he was going for the San Juan solon as that was the president wanted.

"Si Zamora, yun ang gusto ni Presidente," LPGMA Rep. Arnel Ty told this writer when asked who he would be voting for.

Anyway, as Lagman says, that was tradition. But that does not reflect the rule, which is the official guidelines for choosing the Minority Leader.

Before proceeding with last week's election for the Speaker, then Acting Majority Leader Rudy FariAas clarified that the rules provide that the Minority Leader should be elected by the members of the minority group among themselves. And who would comprise the minority group? Those who would not vote for the winning Speaker.

Not one from the Baguilat group contested that, prompting senior House members to say the Baguilat group was estopped by their own silence.

Lagman's second point was that Suarez should be disqualified from seeking the minority post as he voted for the winning nominee - Alvarez.

Of course, that is the rule. But House tradition also has it that opposing lawmakers, out of delicadeza, would vote for their rivals instead of themselves. Now, how come Lagman is citing tradition in claiming the minority post for Baguilat, but would love to go strictly by the rules in disqualifying Suarez?

Has it ever crossed Lagman's mind that if the House is to go strictly by the rules on that particular one wherein lawmakers would opt for delicadeza and not vote for themselves, Alvarez would also be disqualified to sit as Speaker?

Having abstained from the election of the Speaker, Alvarez should be part of the Minority bloc and should therefore be disqualified as Speaker!

Alas! The LP had been deeply intoxicated with the power they held for six years they no longer can imagine and accept the fact they are no longer the power-wielder they once were.

They used to control everything, including the House through the alleged company union they helped put up. Not about to give up everything under a new administration, the LP leadership decided to join forces with the House administration and they were rewarded with the post of Deputy Speaker. But they apparently had not been content with that as they continue to aspire for the Minority Leadership.

So, what do we have now in the event they succeed? An LP-Majority and an LP-Minority in the House of Representatives? Only in the Philippines.

If the Baguilat group members are really serious in assuming the role of the opposition in the House, they should first sever their ties with their party. Or if they are not amenable to losing their membership from the LP, they could simply call themselves the LP Lost Command, but definitely not the Legitimate or Authentic 8 as there is a legitimate and authentic Minority Leader elected by members of the legitimate and authentic minority group as provided for in the rules of the House.

If still they refuse to move on, maybe Bitter 8 would be more appropriate.

Source: Daily Tribune