'Co-opted?': Lagman blasts Libanan-led House minority

Did Albay 1st district Rep. Edcel Lagman just brand the 4Ps Party-list Rep. Marcelino Libanan-led House minority bloc a "co-opted minority"?

Former Vice President Leni Robredo (left) and Albay 1st district Rep. Edcel Lagman (Facebook)

In his manifestation on the plenary floor on Tuesday night, July 26, Lagman enumerated what he believed were the "no-no's" that the established minority bloc has done so far in the fledgling 19th Congress.

Lagman did this after he and Libanan traded counter-SONAs (State of the Nation Address), in what has been a tradition in the House of Representatives whenever the President delivers his annual speech.

"The Constitution and the rules of the House do not provide that the minority leader should be selected by the majority or by the House majority leadership. Does not say so. But it has been happening since several congresses ago and I have enough evidence to show that a caucus was held and that the members of the minority have been anointed by the leadership," said Lagman, who for the past couple of congresses has been presenting himself as the "authentic and independent minority".



"Mr. Speaker, when the leader made his acceptance speech, he prefaced it by thanking the majority. That happened just recently. And then also, the minority leader took his oath of office before the speaker. This has never happened before," he said, clearly referring to Libanan although he never mentioned his colleague by name.

"I was minority leader, Mr. Speaker...the speaker never administered my oath and I confirmed with the former minority leader, Benny Abante; he does not also recall his oath before the majority, before the speaker. Because even the minority leader is not supposed to be beholden to the majority," Lagman said.



The Bicolano continued his tirade against what he called the "quote, minority leader, unquote":

"Now also, when the minority leader stood up to nominate the members of the minority, particularly the assistant and deputy minority leaders, he asked for the approval of the House--that should never be done. The deputies and the assistant minority leader should never be approved by the House. That is the prerogative of the minority, unless the minority is an adjunct of the majority," he said.

"Also yesterday (Monday), no less than the secretary general announced that there should be a meeting of the minority to select their leader. Why is that so? These are all earmarks of a co-opted, a co-opted minority," Lagman said.

The secretary general at that time was Mark Llandro Mendoza. He was designated to his position by the previous House leadership.

Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez was elected as new House Speaker during Monday morning's session. He replaced Mendoza with Reginald "Reggie" Velasco, the new secretary general.


Libanan was unanimously voted as minority leader by 25 House members who did not explicitly favor Romualdez's nomination for speaker. 

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. delivered his first SONA on Monday afternoon.