By Ben Rosario
Opposition leader Rep. Edcel Lagman (LP, Albay) on Friday called on Liberal Party colleagues to unite as one solid minority bloc, following the filing of sedition charges against the party’s chairman Vice President Leni Robredo and other opposition and religious leaders critical of the Duterte administration.
Lagman’s appeal was directed towards fellow LP congressmen, majority of whom are planning to join the Malacanang-backed majority coalition in the Lower House.
The other day, Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice revealed in a television interview that at least 10 out of the 18 LP congressmen elected to serve the 18th Congress were eyeing membership in the majority coalition if only to help guarantee that they will not be left out in the distribution of infrastructure and other funds for their congressional district.
“The recent unfounded charges against Vice President Leni Robredo, critical bishops and vocal opposition leaders for sedition and other crimes give much more impetus to the Liberal Party (LP) members in the House to stand together as the genuine opposition and minority bloc,” said Lagman, who was the leader of the LP-led Magnificent Seven opposition bloc in the 17th Congress.
“The LP Representatives should not only be the real and responsible critics of the administration but must be the undaunted sentinels to safeguard the people’s fundamental rights,” he stated.
Lagman pointed out that since Duterte and Filipinos consider LP the opposition party, the group “must discharge its vital role as the political opposition.”
Erice said LP congressmen were willing to bend “like a bamboo” than become members of the minority bloc that usually loses congressional allocations for their constituents.
“Our choice is to be members of the company union or be in the majority. In terms of getting projects in our districts, it would better if we join the majority,” Erice said.
Erice said more than 10 of the 18 LP congressmen who won congressional seats during the May midterm polls were planning to become members of the Malacanang-backed majority coalition.
However, in a press statement issued Wednesday, LP president Senator Francis Pangilinan said the party will adopt the same opposition role it essayed in the 17th Congress.
“The goal remains: Elect a genuine Minority Leader at the House of Representatives that can provide the check and the balance to the Majority that is aligned with the powerful administration,” said Pangilinan.
The veteran senator assailed the election of pro-administration congressmen to form the recognized minority bloc and fill up the minority leadership post.
Although such practice was allegedly started by LP during its reign as the majority party of the 16th Congress, Pangilinan said only the “real opposition leader, not the Majorit’s Minority Leader.”
“It could not just be anybody, including those who only want a position and those masquerading as fiscalizers but are in fact collaborators,” the opposition lawmaker said.