There will be an "authentic minority bloc" in the 19th Congress, and Albay 1st district Rep. Edcel Lagman will be part of it.
That's the only sure thing about anything that has to do with the word "minority" in the House of Representatives, which will begin its first regular session on Monday morning, July 25.
The way the numbers game works in the 300-strong chamber is that, the solon who loses the vote in the speakership race will automatically become the minority leader. Those who voted for him or her will comprise the minority bloc.
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For the past few Congresses, the 80-year-old Lagman has been disenchanted with this traditional minority bloc that he would rather form another--a third--bloc in the House.
"No need to go through the process," the Bicolano said when asked if he would join the speakership race in order to secure the minority leadership, opposite presumptive House Speaker and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez.
"The authentic minority members can elect the genuine minority leader," he stressed.
Lagman was part of such a handful of House members during the previous two Congresses, when they felt that the traditional minority wasn't able to do its job properly as the fiscalizers of the majority bloc and the administration as a whole. After all, there's a reason why the phrases "company union" and "co-opted minority" become in vogue the past few years in the House.
But who else would throw their hat in this authentic minority? As eloquent as he is, the octogenarian from Albay can only do so much.
"I have been in constant talks with the Makabayan . The number is still fluid," Lagman said, referring to the militant congressmen. The Makabayan stalwarts in the 19th Congress are veterans ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas; and neophyte Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel.
Despite being a mainstay in the House, the Makabayan bloc is a depleted force, down from its six-member iteration in the previous 18th Congress.
Castro, the most senior of militant solons, did not reply when asked if Makabayan would field candidate for the speakership. "It appears that needs to be discussed," a source close to Makabayan would tell this reporter.
If anything, the source said that Makabayan members weren't likely to abstain in the speakership vote--meaning they are keen to vote against Romualdez--the cousin of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and party-mate of Pampanga 2nd district Rep. and former President-slash-Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
But who will challenge Romualdez for the sake of gaining the minority leadership? The position appears to easy picking, given the vaunted "super majority" that will carry the Leyte solon to victory.
It's still a big mystery, with just roughly a day to go before the resumption of House sessions.
"What is certain is that we (authentic minority) will not seek the anointment of the new House leadership. We will remain as authentic and independent opposition," Lagman insisted.