The House Minority bloc wants Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to stay as the leader of the 299-man Lower Chamber.
Sixteen members of the bloc, led by House Minority Leader Bienvenido “Benny” Abante Jr. signed a manifesto supporting Cayetano’s leadership, which they said, gave “sufficient democratic space” to the House opposition.
“We believe that the House of Representatives would be best served with the current leadership at the helm––especially now that we are in the middle of budget deliberations that are crucial to the recovery of our nation from the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said in a three-page manifesto dated Sept. 25.
They noted that under Cayetano’s leadership, the House opposition’s disparate opinions are met with open discussion rather than close-minded dismissal.
“Under his stewardship, the members of the Minority have been given free rein to exercise our right to speak for the voiceless, to stand up for the disenfranchised, and to champion the marginalized. All these would not have been possible without the sufficient democratic space that has
been generously provided by the Speaker. It is in this democratic space that the Minority of the 18th Congress has flourished; and it is in this democratic space where we have been free to speak our minds and our hearts,” they said.
Apart from Abante, other signatories of the manifesto include Senior Deputy Minority Leader Janette Garin, Deputy Minority Leader Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte, Deputy Minority Leader Sharee Ann Tee Tan, Deputy Minority Leader Jose “Bonito” Singson, Jr., Assistant Deputy Minority Leader Stella Luz Quimbo, Assistant Deputy Minority Leader Argel Joseph Cabatba, and Assistant Deputy Minority Leader Gabriel Bordado.
Cavite 3rd District Rep. Alex “AA” Advincula, A TEACHER Partylist Rep. Ma. Victoria Umali, RECOBODA Partylist Rep. Godofredo Guya, KALINGA Partylist Rep. Irene Saulog, Agusan Del Norte 1st District Rep. Lawrence “Law” Fortun, BHW Partylist Rep. Angelica Natasha Co, APEC Partylist Rep. Sergio Dagooc, and Zamboanga Del Norte 3rd District Rep. Isagani Amatong also joined them in signing the manifesto.
“And while we operate in a space that is distinctly ours, we recognize that under the leadership of Speaker Cayetano we are united with the Majority through our shared aspirations to serve the Filipino people, to fight for the oppressed, and to bring progress to the nation,” the lawmakers said.
Abante’s group noted that it recognized that “the choice of House leadership rightfully belongs to our esteemed colleagues in the Majority, and as tradition dictates, it is the Majority that chooses the Speaker of the House.”
In their manifesto, the minority said “it may be advisable to help the captain who has navigated us safely through this squall, rather than be sidetracked by a debate over whose hands should be on the rudder.”
Several House leaders had manifested their support for Cayetano, while others urged Cayetano to honor his term-sharing deal with Marinduque lone District Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco.
Under the term-sharing deal, endorsed by President Duterte, Cayetano will serve as Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress or until October, and will step down by the end of this period to allow Velasco to take over during the last 21 months.