Four factions vying for House minority leadership — Andaya

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 26) — At least four factions are vying for minority leadership following a dramatic shift in power at the House of Representatives, with former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo taking over the speakership from Pantaleon Alvarez, a lawmaker said Thursday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' On The Record, Deputy House Speaker Nonoy Andaya said, "as far as the majority is concerned, what we have is a letter from the Liberal Party saying – rightfully so – according to the rules, they are now part of the minority."

He added the House recognized the Liberal Party as part of the minority because all of them abstained in the voting procedure to elect Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

"What will also complicate matters is the faction of Congressman Rudy Fariñas, part of the PDP also signifying their intention to be part of the minority. And Speaker GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo), is also part of PDP. So, another unique situation there," Andaya said.

"So hindi lang ho isa o dalawang paksyon dito ang pinag-uusapan [So there isn't just one or two factions]. I think there are four factions all vying for the House minority leadership," he added. "And there's another group which still has to signify where they want to be – those who were absent from proceedings."

 

Andaya said they also got a letter from Rep. Danilo Suarez stating he has decided to join the minority of his own free will.

Suarez voted for Arroyo, and the rules state you become part of the majority if you vote for the winning candidate.

"It's a very...shall we say, ticklish issue," Andaya said.

Former Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo however, told CNN Philippines that according to the rules, the Liberal Party is the minority.

"It's very, very clear, it does not require any interpretation," he told On the Record. "It says by definition majority members are those who vote for the ruling candidate and those who are in the minority are those who participated in the elections and voted for somebody who did not win or abstained."

 

He said LP members were the only ones who abstained, and were therefore, clearly the minority.

"I cannot imagine why there's even any debate," he said.

PDP-Laban not worried about members 'exodus'

Despite talk of some members of the PDP-Laban bolting to join other parties, its chief said they were not worried about this action.

Speaking to CNN Philippines Thursday, PDP-Laban President Koko Pimentel said, "Right now since nothing is official, no one is really informing us that he or she is leaving the party, then we'll just adopt a wait and see attitude."

Pimentel said members could leave the party for any reason and they would not be stopped.

"The party was established pursuant to people's to associate freely with like-minded individuals. So if you feel you don't want to associate anymore with these people, you are free to leave," he explained.

 

There have also been talks of PDP-Laban members considering shifting to another party for fear that there would be no one to sign their Certificte of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA), a requirement to run in the election.

That was supposed to be ousted House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez's job, but members withdrew their support for him.

Pimentel gave his assurance that there was time to fix the issue, adding Alvarez was a "good sport" who would not bear a grudge.

"Tapos na, e. Sabi naman niya 'let's move on.' If that's the attitude, there's nothing to worry about. We will issue the CONA pursuant to the best interest of the party." Pimentel said.

A CONA would not be refused simply because a member voted for Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as House Speaker, the Senator clarified.

Pimentel also did not see anything wrong with members leaving the PDP-Laban to join Hugpong ng Pagbabago – Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio's regional party – as it meant they were also supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Pimentel however cautioned "they should also be careful like PDP-Laban...because what happened to us could happen to them."

"For as long as we are politically immature and we focus on personalities, ganyan po ang takbo ng pulitika sa Pilipinas," Pimentel said.

Meanwhile, Negros Occidental Representative Albee Benitez told CNN Philippines' On The Record Thursday that talks of a change in House leadership have been going on for months.

"As early as March, people were already talking about it. There was supposed to be a dinner for the President (Duterte)...and there was supposed to be a change in leadership, but it never happened," he said.

Benitez,  a member of the Visayan bloc in the lower chamber, said Arroyo was then already one of the contenders for the position of House Speaker.

He said he got wind on July 22 that something was going to happen the next day – the day of President's third State of the Nation Address.

In the morning of the 23rd, different groups had their own all-member caucuses at the same time to discuss the situation, Benitez said.

The decision to vote for Arroyo, he said, was a "collective decision again of the Visayan bloc."

"There was a consensus from the political parties to go with...Arroyo," he said.

 

Watch the full episode of On The Record here: