By Ben Rosario
The House of Representatives on Monday started to put in motion the reorganization of the chamber’s leadership with the swift voting of key positions in the majority bloc as well as vital administrative posts.
But the resolution of the four-cornered contest for minority leadership turned out to be the tougher nut to crack as key personalities in the four groups of minority blocs debated on the issue until adjournment.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. gave up his seat as deputy speaker after he was unanimously elected as new majority leader.
Andaya replaced former majority leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas who has declared his bid to head a minority bloc composed of congressmen loyal to former speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.
1SAGIP Party-list Rep. RodanteMarcoleta will take the place of former Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc. Marcoleta will also serve as vice chairman of the Committee on Rules, chaired by Andaya.
Also elected was Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez as chairperson of the House Committee on Accounts. She replaced Batangas Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain who did not support Arroyo.
The Lower House also appointed Director Roberto Mallig as acting secretary-general and former Presidential Security Group commander, retired Gen. Romeo Preztoza, as sergeant-at-arms. They replaced Cesar Pareja and retired Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali, respectively.
A move by former President and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to recognize Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez as minority leader was met with strong challenge from three groups seeking the same recognition.
Reps. Miro Quimbo (LP, Marikina City); Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers Partylist), and Fariñas opposed the move, pointing out that Suarez is deemed no longer a member of the minority bloc since he voted for Arroyo when she was nominated last July 23.
The three lawmakers cited the House rules that provide that all congressmen who voted for the winning speaker are considered majority bloc members.
Fariñas stressed that the only holdout in the minority was Assistant Minority Leader and ABS party-list Rep. Eugene De Vera who abstained during the speakership vote.
“If you don’t listen to me, I will bring the matter before the Supreme Court. That would be embarrassing,” warned Fariñas.
In a press statement, Albay Rep. EdcelLagman, who headed the Liberal Party-backed Magnificent Seven, also slammed moves to retain Suarez.
“They dug their own grave as minority when they campaigned and voted for the new Speaker, former President and Pampanga Rep.GloriaMacapagal-Arroyo. Their resurrection to their erstwhile status as minority is utterly nil and inconceivable,” said Lagman.
Quimbo, who enjoys the support of the LP and the Makabayan blocs, said his group should be recognized as the true and only minority bloc in the Lower Chamber.