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Belmonte, Suarez fight for minority leadership

Efforts to unify the opposition in the House of Representatives appeared headed for failure after allies of defeated presidential bets former Vice President Jejomar Binay and former Secretary Mar Roxas decided to slug it out for leadership of the minority bloc in the legislative chamber.

Outgoing Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of Quezon City and former independent minority bloc leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez will run for speaker but both agreed that winning over Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez could be an impossible task.

A week into the speakership race, Alvarez has been assured of at least 90 percent of the total House membership.

Claiming that he has the numbers to place second in the speakership race and become minority leader, Suarez said he will represent Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance that won nine congressional seats during the May elections.

“I don’t think LP still has enough members to back the former speaker. I won’t be running if I do not have the numbers to get the minority leadership,” said Suarez.

Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, UNA president, said he has decided to back out from the speakership race as a result of Belmonte’s decision to seek leadership of the opposition bloc.

However, Tiangco remained undecided on whether or not he would vote for Suarez, saying that he is used to becoming an independent.

On Tuesday, Belmonte, who backed Roxas’ presidential bid, decided to run for speaker to represent remnants of the LP contingent in the Lower House in the minority bloc. (BEN ROSARIO)