Velasco-supporter Paduano vows to effectively fiscalize House as minority leader

Published October 21, 2020, 6:19 PM

by Ben Rosario

He supported and voted for Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to be the speaker of the House but newly-installed Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod Partylist Rep. Joseph Paduano vowed to be faithful in his role as the chief fiscalizer in the House of Representatives.

(Photo courtesy of Abang Lingkod Party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano’s Facebook page via PNA / MANILA BULLETIN)

Paduano was among the 186 congressmen who signed the manifesto demanding the holding of regular sessions that was unceremoniously suspended through then Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s insistence.  This manifesto and other moves made by Velasco’s camp later resulted to Cayetano’s ouster.

Paduano said he joined Velasco in demanding that Cayetano honor  a term-sharing agreement for the speakership, with President Duterte standing as witness last year.

When Duterte called Velasco and Cayetano, together with their principal backers, to a meeting in Malacanang to discuss the supposed gentleman’s pact, Paduano was there as part of Velasco’s contingent.

“I was then the representative of the Visayas bloc,  I also wanted to help the institution that was tainted by the refusal of the speaker to follow the gentleman’s agreement,” explained Paduano.

Paduano, together with Reps. Jose “Bonito”Singson (Probinsyano Ako) and Bayani Fernando (Lakas-CMD, Marikina City), was also in the Celebrity Plaza “session” that elected Velasco.  All three members of the minority bloc voted to elect Velasco to the speakership that was declared vacant that day.

“Without sacrificing the balancing role of the minority at least we must have rapport with the Speaker.  Kelangan mo rin kasi iyan (It is also needed),” Paduano told reporters during his first virtual press conference as the top oppositionist in the Lower House.

Paduano, who replaced Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante as minority leader, stressed that while he had indeed played a big role in getting Velasco elected as speaker, he did not violate any rules in the Lower House with being elected to his current post.

“There is precedence to this.  If you will recall, Manong Danny Suarez also voted for GMA (former speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) and this issue reached the Supreme Court,” he explained.

Suarez was minority leader when he joined the majority bloc in unseating then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and in electing Arroyo as his replacement.

Under the rules of the Lower House, a congressman who votes for the speaker is deemed automatically a member of the majority bloc. 

Paduano affirmed that the rule does not apply in cases where only the Speaker’s post is vacant, which was the case in both the election of Arroyo and Velasco.

Nonetheless, Paduano vowed to remain committed in his role as fiscalizer, stressing that his leadership in the opposition bloc will be democratic and respectful of the position and beliefs of the 21 other members of the bloc, the Makabayan group included.