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Suarez elected minority leader

Hoping to end the controversy that has further divided the already fractured opposition group in the House of Representatives, 18 congressmen elected Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez as leader of the minority bloc.

Suarez’s election was expected to be manifested on the floor when session resumed yesterday afternoon.

His rival, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, vowed to register his objection. Baguilat believes that after garnering eight votes during the speakership race on Monday, he should be declared the minority leader.

During the Monday vote, Suarez, who followed tradition by voting for eventual winner, Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, received only seven votes.

At least 11 of 15 solons who abstained from the Monday vote, yesterday joined the minority caucus and decided to support Suarez as the next minority leader.

This time, Suarez voted for himself. He was also the choice of the following solons: Representatives Lito Atienza (Buhay Party-list), Luis Campos (UNA, Makati City), Monsour del Rosario (UNA, Makati City), Harry Roque (Kabayan Paty-list), Delphine Lee (AGRI Party-list), Orestes Salon (AGRI-Party-list) and Anna Villaraza Suarez (ALONA Party-list); Harlin Neil Abayon (UNA, Northern Samar), Arlene Arcillas (LP, Laguna), Joseph Bernos (UNA, Abra), Oscar Garbin (Ako Bicol Party-list), Abigail Ferriol-Pascual (Kalinga Party-list), Eugene de Vera (ABS Party-list), Julieta Cortuna (A-Teacher Party-list), Arnel Cerafica (Taguig City), Anthony Bravo (COOP-NATCO Party-list), Aniceto Bertiz (ACTS-OFW Party-list), and Amanda Bagatsing (PDP-Laban, Manila).

Citing the rules of the Lower House, Baguilat said he should have been declared the minority leader as he garnered the next highest votes in the three-way speakership contest.

Roque slammed Baguilat and his LP colleagues for protesting a democratic vote taken on Suarez, saying that the once ruling party wanted “to have their cake and eat it too.”

“Most of those in the Majority now are the ones who jumped ship from LP. They want to enjoy the perks of being in the Majority, while at the same time they want to lord over Minority by having one of their members elected as Minority Leader,” said Roque.

He added: “Had LP controlled the minority, it would have been as if they are still the ruling party in Congress. They had their day for the last six years. The ruling party should be PDP-Laban, the party of the President.”